Eyes on APAC

May 31, 2019  4:36 AM

Alibaba Cloud to guide SMEs on doing business in China

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

Chinese cloud giant Alibaba Cloud has launched a global programme in Singapore to guide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the city-state that are looking to expand their business into China.

Called the China Gateway Programme, the initiative, rolled out in collaboration with DBS Bank, a slew of government agencies as well as industry associations, is part of Alibaba Cloud’s efforts to court overseas businesses as it expands its global footprint.

By tapping Alibaba’s technological knowhow and experience that has enabled it to become a global e-commerce and technology giant, Singapore SMEs will be able to capture and capitalise on growth opportunities in Asia and China.

But more than just supplying SME participants with cloud computing services, Alibaba Cloud will provide firms of all sizes with an in-depth immersion programme on doing business in China, connecting them to Chinese companies and consumers via the Alibaba ecosystem.

Global enterprises that have benefited from the China Gateway Programme so far include Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido, American automaker Ford and Italian cruise operator Costa Cruises.

“As the largest public cloud provider in Asia-Pacific, and our role as the data intelligence backbone of all business units in the Alibaba ecosystem from e-commerce to payments, logistics and supply chain management, we have the proven expertise and experience to help businesses grow,” said Selina Yuen, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International.

“With the support of our partners here, we are confident of supporting local businesses of all sizes and from all backgrounds to grow beyond Singapore, especially into China’s market,” she added.

Alibaba Cloud was recently named first in the Asia-Pacific market share for IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) and IUS (infrastructure utility services) in two consecutive years by analyst firm Gartner in its latest report on the region’s IT services market.

The Chinese cloud supplier has been aggressively expanding its footprint across the region, starting with its international headquarters in Singapore that it opened in 2015.

It currently operates 15 availability zones in the region outside China, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Japan. The company set up its second datacentre in Jakarta this year.

May 9, 2019  7:17 PM

Will OpenShift 4 be a game-changer?

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

The hybrid cloud message rang loud and clear at Red Hat Summit 2019, with executives from the open source bigwig touting its wares to help enterprises run their workloads on-premise and on the cloud.

The key to Red Hat’s hybrid cloud play lies in OpenShift, its container platform based on Kubernetes, which lets developers provision containers, along with self-service provisioning of IT resources and automation capabilities.

Already being used by over 1,000 customers worldwide, including notable Asia-Pacific companies like Australia’s ANZ Bank and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, OpenShift received another shot in the arm this week with Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS, an embedded version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux acquired from Red Hat’s buyout of CoreOS last year.

While Red Hat has been integrating CoreOS capabilities into OpenShift since last year, including the ability to automate Kubernetes cluster upgrades over the air, the latest CoreOS enhancement in OpenShift 4 will provide more choices for enterprises to deploy enterprise-grade Kubernetes by offering a lightweight, fully immutable, container-optimised Linux distro.

For some years now, Red Hat has been doing some interesting work around Operators, a method of packaging, managing and deploying software as Kubernetes applications. With OpenShift 4, Red Hat has introduced Operator certification to deliver a trusted ecosystem of enterprise applications with consistent packaging, deployment and lifecycle management across all OpenShift footprints.

OpenShift 4 also comes with OperatorHub, where enterprises can try out Operators, or Kubernetes applications, at various maturity levels. Red Hat said this will help to “foster iterative software development and deployment as developers get self-service access to popular components like databases, message queues or tracing in a managed-service fashion on the platform”.

To ease application development processes, OpenShift 4 will include a developer preview of Knative for building serverless applications. By providing autoscaling, in-cluster builds and event frameworks for developing cloud-native applications on Kubernetes, Knative enables developers to focus on writing code by hiding complex parts of building, deploying and managing applications.

Also on the serverless front, Red Hat partnered with Microsoft to allow developers to tap Azure’s serverless functions in OpenShift through their joint Keda (Kubernetes-based event-driven autoscaling) initiative. This is expected to drive greater use of serverless computing and increase Microsoft’s visibility among developers in the growing function-as-a-service market.

A key hallmark of OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is portability across different environments, whether it’s on the public cloud, on-premise or hybrid cloud. In the coming months, OpenShift 4 will debut on major public cloud services including Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, as well as private cloud technologies like OpenStack, virtualisation platforms and bare-metal servers.

Whether OpenShift 4 will be a game-changer amid growing competition between Kubernetes distributions remains to be seen. But going by the feedback from industry watchers, Red Hat appears to be headed in the right direction.

Noting that Red Hat’s approach to enterprise Kubernetes is well-aligned with enterprise requirements, Jay Lyman, principal analyst for cloud native and DevOps at 451 Research, said OpenShift continues to be a top Kubernetes product in the market that simplifies central administration of Kubernetes clusters, environments and users.

To Al Gillen, IDC’s group vice president for software development and open source, OpenShift 4 offers the portability enterprises are asking for “in a package that brings substantive improvements in automating deployment and simplifying operation, which ultimately makes innovation easier.”

Will Red Hat OpenShift 4 be a game-changer? Tell us more in the comments!

Red Hat commissioned TechTarget APAC to cover Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston. The above content was not reviewed or influenced prior to publication.

May 8, 2019  11:00 AM

How APAC firms are using open source software

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

Open source software has evolved from providing low-cost alternatives to proprietary offerings to a platform for innovation.

Most recent developments in cloud computing and software development, such as Kubernetes in the case of containers, for example, are first happening in open source.

Indeed, users of open source software at Red Hat Summit 2019 are embracing the technology not only to save costs, but also to tap new capabilities to solve business problems.

In the case of South Korea’s Lotte Card, the use of OpenShift has enabled the credit card company to keep up with the growing number of transactions over the years, said Jeong-hwan Kim, vice-president and CIO of Lotte Card.

Lotte Card boasts nine million customers and processes an average of three million transactions a day.

Kim said by moving its core systems to OpenShift, Lotte Card has not only improved transaction performance by 10 times and reduced costs by 10%, it is also able to deliver personalised marketing messages for customers using big data.

To DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, open source software is a key to its digital transformation efforts.

Its group CIO David Gledhill noted that as DBS transforms itself to become a technology company, it has to harness the same open source technologies that are being used by hyper-scale companies such as Facebook, Google and Netflix, just to name a few.

DBS’s datacentres, for example, are designed based on Facebook’s open source datacentre blueprint. The bank also uses Netflix’s Chaos Monkey resiliency tool to expose its engineers to failures more frequently, so as to incentivise them to build more resilient services.

Gledhill, however, stressed that these tools are only used for testing and development rather than on production systems.

That’s where Red Hat’s OpenShift, which offers enterprise-grade support, comes in. Gledhill said the use of OpenShift for production systems has resulted in cost savings of as much as 80%, as well as improved DBS’s time-to-market by 10 times.

The situation is similar at Spark NZ, a telco in New Zealand that has moved its integration services from IBM Websphere to Red Hat OpenShift in an effort to improve operations and customer service.

Spark NZ’s general manager for IT applications Niall Fitzgerald said the lift-and-shift effort has enabled the company to deploy application changes quickly without outages, as well as put in place automation and continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) capabilities.

Red Hat commissioned TechTarget APAC to cover Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston. The above content was not reviewed or influenced prior to publication.

May 7, 2019  3:47 PM

Why RHEL 8 matters to enterprises

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

For decades, the server operating system (OS) has been an indispensable part of any technology stack, harnessing the power of the underlying hardware infrastructure to run a wide array of business applications.

That role is set to be enhanced with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, the latest version of the OS from the Linux supplier touted to make it easier for enterprises to take advantage of the latest innovations in hybrid cloud, containers and DevOps. Here’s why RHEL 8 matters to enterprises:

Built-in management tools

Serving as the nerve centre of enterprise datacentres, Linux has been used to support a growing number of workloads, not only on-premise but also increasingly on the cloud in a hybrid environment. Managing these workloads is undoubtedly becoming more complex as applications get updated more frequently.

With RHEL 8, Red Hat is including Red Hat Insights to proactively identify and remediate IT issues, from security vulnerabilities to stability problems, before they occur. It uses predictive analytics based on Red Hat’s vast knowledge of open technologies to help admins avoid problems and unplanned downtime in production environments.

In addition, to ease the task of managing workloads in a hybrid environment, Red Hat is also packing in Red Hat Smart Management, a set of tools to manage, patch, configure and provision RHEL deployments across the hybrid cloud.

Stability and agility

The faster pace of business has driven more enterprises to adopt agile methodologies in software development. That, however, could have knock-on effects on stability and predictability of production systems, leading some enterprises to consider bimodal IT, a two-tiered IT operations model that allows for the creation of IT systems and processes that are stable and predictable, as well as agile and fast.

With RHEL 8, enterprises can get access to Application Streams, which makes it possible to update fast-moving languages, frameworks and developer tools frequently without impacting core resources in the OS, melding faster developer innovation with production stability in a single IT operations model.

Lowering barriers to entry

Linux admins often use the command line to perform specific tasks, but those who are new to the OS, such as Windows admins, may not be familiar with how things work in Linux. 

With RHEL 8, Red Hat has abstracted away the deep complexities of granular sysadmin tasks behind the RHEL web console. The console provides a consistent graphical interface for managing and monitoring RHEL systems, from the health of virtual machines to overall system performance. 

To further improve ease of use, RHEL 8 also supports in-place upgrades, providing a more streamlined, efficient and timely path for users to convert RHEL 7 instances to RHEL 8 systems.

Finally, RHEL 8 is not complete without built in automation capabilities. Thanks to Ansible, IT operations teams can now automate many of the complex tasks around managing and configuring Linux in production, making it easier for new admins to adopt Linux protocols and eliminate configuration issues due to human errors.

Red Hat commissioned TechTarget APAC to cover Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston. The above content was not reviewed or influenced prior to publication.

May 5, 2019  7:53 AM

What to expect at Red Hat Summit 2019

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

When IBM announced that it was going to acquire open source juggernaut Red Hat for a whopping $34bn last October, several industry analysts weighed in on the merits of the mega deal and who would stand to benefit more from the marriage.

451 Research’s William Fellows noted that the move puts IBM in a good position to tap on sub-trends in the cloud market, including the growing appetite for hybrid cloud solutions, while Gartner’s Philip Dawson foresees the challenge on the part of IBM in keeping Red Hat separate as it tries to grow its cloud business.

Amid the differing viewpoints from industry watchers, it was clear that both IBM and Red Hat had to keep educating the market on what their marriage meant to employees, customers and investors.

At IBM’s Think 2019 event earlier this year, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst took to the stage and provided hints of what could come.

While his pitch to “make open innovation consumable for enterprise” – a key message that Red Hat is already espousing through its open innovation labs – wasn’t unexpected, he hinted at edge computing and containers as areas where IBM and Red Hat could work well together.

The conversation is likely to continue at this year’s Red Hat Summit in Boston, where Red Hat and IBM executives, including IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, will likely address not only concerns over the cultural differences between their companies, but also what they can do together to write the next chapter of cloud computing.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8

With Linux now serving as the foundation for cloud computing infrastructure, Red Hat is expected to delve deeper into the capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 at the show. The flagship operating system, currently in beta, is well suited to run mission-critical applications on commodity hardware.

A key feature of RHEL 8 is support for Linux containers – Red Hat’s lightweight, open standards-based container toolkit is now fully supported and included with the operating system.

It also comes with tools like Buildah for building containers, Podman for running containers, and Skopeo for sharing or finding containers. These “daemonless” tools will help developers find, run, build and share containerised applications more quickly and efficiently. You can read more about RHEL 8 here.

Damien Wong, Red Hat’s vice-president and general manager for Asian growth and emerging markets, expects existing beta users to be among the first adopters of RHEL 8, while more risk-averse enterprises might wait for the first update to the new OS before taking it up.

“My sense is that there will be a fairly significant take-up,” he told Computer Weekly earlier this year. “A lot of folks who are involved in digital transformation initiatives will want to have some of the capabilities in RHEL 8, along with the container platform, and API and middleware integration capabilities.”

Ties that bind

Red Hat has always been collaborating with like-mind technology companies to help enterprises harness the power of open source, whether it’s on-premise, on the cloud or in a hybrid environment. Over the years, it has struck various partnerships with the likes of AWS and Microsoft to help Red Hat customers to tap public cloud services.

At last year’s summit, Red Hat teamed up with Microsoft to let developers run container-based applications on the Azure cloud and on-premise through its OpenShift container application platform.

The partnership, which builds on a strategic alliance first announced in November 2015, comes at a time when interest in using containerised applications is growing.

While it was once unthinkable for Microsoft to cosy up with Red Hat, the growing footprint of Linux and other open source software in datacentres and the cloud can no longer be ignored.

With Satya Nadella expected to make an appearance at the show this year, we can expect even deeper ties between Microsoft and Red Hat moving forward.

Customer stories

Red Hat has a knack for bringing a stellar cast of customers to every Red Hat Summit and this year will be no exception. The APAC contingent comprises some of the who’s who in the region, including DBS Bank’s group CIO David Gledhill who will talk about the bank’s digital journey and how it is using Red Hat’s hybrid cloud technologies to build new applications and improve customer experiences.

On the telcoms side, Optus’s Guillaume Poulet-Mathis, its senior innovation manager, and Vasily Chekalkin, its principle software engineer, will share how the telco is using Red Hat OpenShift to deploy a new generation of virtualised mobile core functions. There will also be a live demo of a digitised native phone call and how Optus’s software engineers are revolutionising carrier networks.

Red Hat commissioned TechTarget APAC to cover Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston. The above content was not reviewed or influenced prior to publication.

April 18, 2019  2:48 AM

Four things you should know about the 5G game in Asia-Pacific

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

This is a guest post by Simon Lockington, director of global solutions enablement at Equinix Asia-Pacific

Industry watchers are predicting that 4G LTE subscribers in Asia-Pacific will naturally make the move to 5G’s faster network when the service becomes available post-2020. In Singapore, 5G networks are expected to be rolled out by 2020.

According to the recent Mobile Economy report from GSMA, Asia-Pacific – home to several markets of early adopters – will pioneer the move to 5G technologies and is projected to be the world’s largest market for 5G, reaching over 675 million connections by 2025. Why then, is Asia-Pacific and Singapore in particular, expected to be so far ahead of the pack? Here are four key drivers of 5G development in Asia-Pacific:

Asia-Pacific has a younger user base

Asia-Pacific has a larger proportion of younger generation compared to US and Europe. This younger generation, born in the Internet and digital era is right at home with digital devices and is more tech savvy – the babies that were raised with “iPad nannies” will grow up and expect to be managers with iPads.

This group also has greater demand for digital applications and services, such as social media, gaming, and online video consumption. They are both users and creators of digital applications that require more processing power such as voice recognition, voice interaction, virtual reality, and augmented reality which they expect to be applied to fields as diverse as online retailing, online gaming and robotics, just to name a few. These applications will need the network and bandwidth capabilities of 5G if they are to deliver on consumer expectations.

Savvy mobile users continue to want more speed

According to GSMA, the number of unique mobile subscribers will reach 5.9 billion by 2025 globally, the equivalent to 71% of the world’s population. In Singapore, there are a total of 8.37 million mobile connections, this means that 144% of the Singapore population is connected on mobile.

The up-take of 5G subscriptions in Singapore and Asia-Pacific will build on the current base of 4G LTE and digitally savvy mobile users who want speed, reliability and minimal latency to use their everyday applications. These are often data-heavy content sites likes Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, that users expect to be delivered to them at constant high-speeds regardless of location.

Current 4G networks suffer large speed fluctuations throughout the day. Peak-hour usage can often be slow as massive amounts of data jam networks, while speeds can vary greater depending on whether a user is stationery or on the move. Bandwidth hungry users of smart 4G devices are therefore keen to make the quick switch to 5G which promises pervasive connectivity.

Building smart cities without legacy infrastructure

Singapore’s move towards a smart nation is creating demand for the country to optimise the effective use of resources and improve efficiency. As a smart nation, Singapore will require strong telecommunication network infrastructure to support the thousands of IoT devices needed to the city – from safety and security, roads and traffic control, to utility management. To manage these complex data flows, it will need to rely on a fast and robust network, and network operators hope that 5G will be the resolution to this.

Singapore believes that a future-ready and globally competitive digital infrastructure is the bedrock of its digital economy. What makes Singapore and Asia-Pacific stand out is that this region has such a pervasive mobile network that have not been hindered by legacy mobile infrastructure. This has made it easier for governments and enterprises to roll out new infrastructures without having to attempt to upgrade old technology or migrate users over. China for instance is a great example of this – Ping An, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei are leading a smart city initiative covering 500 cities across the country, all of which are based on new, mobile technologies.

Burgeoning R&D in the region

Many Asian and foreign companies have already started investing in 5G projects across the region as they rush to be at the forefront of what the technology has to offer. For instance, just a couple of months ago, local telecommunications company Singtel, in collaboration with Optus and Ericsson, successfully made a 5G video call with augmented reality (AR) between Singapore and Australia, taking a huge step forward in making 5G services to the masses.

Across the region, mobile operators are also planning to invest almost $200bn over the next few years to expand their 4G networks and launch new 5G networks to accelerate the growth of Asia’s digital economies and societies.

Realising the benefits of 5G

With 5G devices and 5G infrastructure set to bring about change, how will these new mobile services and applications impact different verticals? Here are two verticals that in my opinion, will be most impacted.

  • Content and digital media – According to Intel, the global media industry stands to gain $765bn in cumulative revenues from new services and applications enabled by 5G. 5G will offer faster, more stable connectivity with more bandwidth, enabling content service providers to offer superior experiences when watching high-quality videos. It will also enable innovative applications such as virtual reality and augmented reality to be created to deliver more personalised customer experiences.
  • HealthcareCurrently, healthcare providers already rely on 4G to access digital patients’ records such as X-rays. With 5G, healthcare providers can remotely monitor patients and gather data in real time by using the internet of things (IoT) devices to help them allocate the right resources more efficiently and improve personalized and preventive care. In addition, with artificial intelligence and big data, patient data can provide valuable insights to help make the right diagnoses and lifesaving decisions in real time, even performing remote surgeries and medical procedures with ultra-low latency.

Interconnection: the weapon of 5G game

5G is coming but in order to get the maximum business value from this highly anticipated technology, what weapon can enterprises use to stay ahead of the 5G game? The answer is simple – interconnection.

To support 5G demand, a vendor-neutral co-location and interconnection platform will enable enterprises deploying 5G to seamlessly access robust network and cloud ecosystems. With interconnection, enterprises will be able to directly interconnect with network and cloud service providers and find that fine balance of improving network and application performance with low-latency connections with cost efficiency.

The real-time, secure and low latency connectivity will enable companies to realise the benefits of 5G to transform their businesses, and ultimately bring more revenue opportunities. 5G, combined with interconnection, will bring disruptive transformation to different verticals.

April 4, 2019  9:26 AM

Ping An to power Hong Kong’s e-ID system in major win

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

China’s top insurance company, Ping An, has nabbed a coveted Hong Kong government project to develop the city’s electronic personal identity system, or e-ID, for local residents.

When ready, e-ID will enable Hong Kongers to conduct online transactions via their electronic identification, paving the way for the city’s government to provide services directly to residents.

Ericson Chan, CEO of Ping An Technology, the technology arm of Ping An, said the company’s strengths in cloud computing and facial recognition were key reasons for winning the contract.

“The e-ID project is the framework for building a smart city in Hong Kong. Participation in the project is conducive to helping Ping An Technology further develop the overseas practice of smart city,” Chan added.

Ping An claims that its cloud service offers the highest level of security in China’s financial sector, having achieved 12 authoritative security certifications both at home and abroad.

It has also developed full-stack service capabilities – from datacentre infrastructure to cloud-based applications – delivered to customers across industries and sites, along with facial recognition knowhow that has been applied in airport security and other fields with an accuracy rate of 99.8%.

That Ping An has won a major government contract is an affirmation of its technical maturity and ambition in becoming a major technology supplier, not only in China but globally.

It has previously said that it wants to eventually generate half of its earnings from technology, and this latest win takes it one step closer to realising its ambition.

March 22, 2019  8:33 AM

Is open source lock-in possible?

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

Earlier this week, open source software company Suse announced that it is strengthening its presence in the Asia-Pacific region following its acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus.

Well-known for its Suse Linux distro that got me into Linux during my student years, Suse faces strong competition from its bigger US rival Red Hat.

The two open source software companies have similar offerings, starting with Linux for the infrastructure piece, to container orchestration and OpenStack in the platform layer. But unlike Red Hat, which has Red Hat Ansible under its fold, Suse does not appear to have a commercial version of the Ansible open source automation tool.

In its public communications on its APAC expansion plans, Suse took the chance to stake the claim that it is now the industry’s largest independent open source company – in light of Red Hat’s impending acquisition by IBM.

During a recent meeting with Suse executives, Andy Jiang, Suse’s vice president for Asia-Pacific and Japan, touted the company’s independence and claimed it would not lock users into its platform unlike other open source rivals.

While Jiang did not provide specific examples of how its rivals were locking in enterprises, any open source company that does so will be going against the ethos of free and open source software, that is, users have the freedom to choose an open source vendor and switch suppliers easily if things don’t work out.

Of course, as commercial open source software vendors, the likes of Red Hat and Suse are concerned with profitability and have the right to employ ways to maintain their customer base.

But they should base those efforts on their innovation chops and strength of their service and support offerings, and not try to lock a user to their platform – like Apple does with its ecosystem. After all, isn’t open source software supposed to be open and interoperable regardless of which platform you choose?

Have you been locked into – or felt like you were being locked into – an open source platform by a commercial open source vendor? Tell us more in the comments!

March 8, 2019  5:41 AM

Getting farmers up to speed with farm tech

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

Improving crop yield using artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic as researchers and tech suppliers cast their sights on an industry that isn’t exactly the forerunners in applying technology.

Earlier this year, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and rural technology start-up Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) launched a new platform that uses AI and cloud-based geospatial technology to deliver farm data and analytics to farmers.

Called the Rural Intelligence Platform, it is the first of its kind that can assess and monitor rural land anywhere in Australia, drawing on information from trusted data sources on productivity, water access, yield, land use, crop type, rainfall, drought impact and more.

More recently, IBM announced a two-year research collaboration with Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to improve the yield of sugarcane in Thailand, the world’s second largest exporter of sugar.

With domain support from Mitr Phol, the largest supplier of sugar in Asia, IBM and NSTDA will pilot an AI-driven intelligent dashboard called Agronomic Insights Assistant to provide insights on crop health, soil moisture, pest and disease infestation risk, expected yield and commercial cane sugar (CCS) index by leveraging weather data.

The dashboard will also make use of local sensing technology customised and enhanced for sugarcane farming in Thailand by NSTDA to deliver those insights.

For a start, it will be piloted in the middle of this year on three sugarcane farms of up to one-million-square-meter. If things go well, farmers may be granted access to information that can help them assess and manage risks early, optimise productivity and ultimately increase their crop yield.

With insights up to two weeks in advance and alerts on pests and diseases, stem borer and white leaf risk, hyper-local, short-term, and seasonal weather forecasts, it is expected that farmers will be able to plan specific actions such as irrigation, fertiliser application, and pesticide spray proactively to fight against threat of yield loss.

While the objectives of a growing number of digital agriculture projects are commendable, given that  agricultural development is critical for reducing poverty in developing countries, these technology solutions must be affordable and cost-effective to farmers in the longer term if there’s going to be widespread adoption.

Rather than go it all alone, technology suppliers like IBM could work with the likes of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to achieve economies of scale and drive down costs for individual farms.

The ADB has been championing the use of technology to improve farm yield, potentially becoming a unifying force not only to fund projects, but also to bring together different players to overcome barriers to technology adoption in agriculture.

These include the lack of coordination across data producers, weak methodological processes, limited human and capital infrastructure, inadequate capacities to collect and analyse data from a policy perspective, and poor-quality metadata and dissemination tools.

February 22, 2019  7:55 AM

Google opens developer space in Singapore

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

Inspired by the cafes in Silicon Valley that developers hang out at to meet fellow coders and potential employers, Google has opened a similar space at its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore for the developer community in Southeast Asia.

The first of its kind for Google in the region, the 7,200 square feet space is configurable to suit different needs, whether it’s machine learning workshops or conferences of up to 200 participants, said Sami Kizilbash, Google’s programme manager for developer ecosystem in Southeast Asia.

With food being served freely at Google offices and campuses around the globe, the space also features a micro-kitchen that serves food for hungry developers, complete with catering support for events.

And needless to say, developers working at the space will also get easy access to Google’s resources, including its people, programs, network and technologies.

Lending support to Google’s new developer space was Singapore’s minister of communications and information S. Iswaran, who noted at an opening event that the new facility will augment the country’s efforts to boost the digital capabilities of Singapore-based firms.

These efforts include the TechSkills Accelerator programme to train existing IT pros and people aspiring to join the tech sector, as well as the AI apprenticeship programme announced in August 2018.

The networking opportunities afforded by Google’s developer space will also encourage sharing of ideas and collaboration, enabling local enterprises and talent to become more innovative and competitive, Iswaran said.

The investment that Google is making in its new developer space underscores the company’s growing efforts to lure more developers to create applications on its platform rather than that of its rivals.

It is also doing so in areas where it has a competitive edge, particularly in AI and machine learning. In November 2018, it organised a machine learning bootcamp and has since hosted more than 1,200 developers at the new space.

While the battle for developer mindshare among tech companies has been hotting up for some time now, Google’s latest salvo bodes well for Singapore which has been pitching itself as a magnet and breeding ground for high-quality technology talent in Asia and beyond.

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