AIMS: Demand Driving End-to-End Services
By Cat Yong
The country’s carrier-neutral data centre has increased its data centre capacity in Malaysia by almost two-fold with its latest 34,500 sq.ft. state-of-the-art CJ1 data centre in Cyberjaya. This is the AIMS Group merely rolling up its sleeve, as it prepares to really get down to business for the months leading up to 2013 and beyond.
A few key things have happened that lead up to this. First and foremost is TimedotCom’s (TdC) acquisition of the organisation. Second, is the almost voracious demand for more services that leverage their infrastructure, breadth of presence and unique position in the industry.
“The main message for AIMS this year is about our integration with TdC finally. So, what we can offer right now is a more complete solution to customers out there, while maintaining carrier-neutrality.” said Ahmad Zahri Mirza, VP of business development for AIMS.
|Ahmad Zahri Mirza|
That means, not just its usual core services of connectivity, disaster recovery and co-location, but also others that can layer on top like managed security, messaging solutions and other sticky-type services.
“TdC has a very big customer base. It comprises of customers from various industries. They can productise what we have at AIMS and offer it to customers as a complete and end-to-end solution as well,” Henry Chuah, VP of new businesses at AIMS, further explained, while also adding, “We are working very closely with TdC’s products teams to ensure initiatives and plans are known by them, so they can prepare in terms of going-to-market.”
Besides that, the new CJ1 data centre is being offered as an alternative disaster recovery site. It perfectly targets AIMS’ existing customers who already sit at the main Menara Aik Hua HQ/data centre; a layer of fibre ring interconnects CJ1 to it.
AIMS also already has presences in Penang and Johor Bahru. Together with presence in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong, AIMS is able to offer co-location services as well to customers who like to have their data nearby. This makes AIMS, the most densely populated communications facility in Southeast Asia, with all domestic telcos and even 17 foreign telcos that serve the Malaysian market, onboard the data centre at AIMS’ HQ.
Needless to say, it is a good time for AIMS to diversify their services portfolio, as well as strengthen existing ones. This has led them to exploring new services like caching-as-a-service and also streaming-as-a-service.
“Essentially these services are to help the industry. Caching-as-a-service will help improve performance for service providers in delivering content to their end subscribers, and in doing so; because we are caching a lot of content which would otherwise depend on international links; the service providers would enjoy cost efficiency too,” explained Ahmad.
A lot of content is still housed outside of Malaysia. With the general rule of thumb that 80% of Malaysians want to view the same content, what that’s been pulled in from overseas, would be cached here (locally). Other users can view it without their ‘request’ having to go the same long route it did the first time around and not having to use the same international connectivity all over again (and again several times), reduces cost tremendously.
“We have set up our own cloud infrastructure here (at Menara Aik Hua) specifically for this service,” said Ahmad who also added that all the service providers housed here are exploring how the service would benefit them. The cloud element to the Caching by AIMS service comes in because the infrastructure is shared and on-demand. The objective is to have as many service providers and their subscribers using AIMS’ caching, as mass numbers would emerge content which is relevant to the local viewership.
Ahmad clarified, “We are not isolating service providers that are not located here. All they need to do is set up a point-of-presence (POP). Alternatively, we can set up another infrastructure at their location. However the benefit would be for them to use the same infrastructure because more users would emerge content that is relevant.”
He also observed that streaming content is another popular application. “If you look at the amount of traffic, probably 70% is videos.” With AIMS’ streaming service, content owners can offer live streaming and/or VOD streaming, without having to invest in the infrastructure, hardware or expertise needed to support it. That’s already taken care of by AIMS. “As long as they have the content, they can put it up, and it’s on the Internet,” said Ahmad.
The service primarily targets content owners whose audience is based in Malaysia. “That’s ideal for now, because our strength is having our POP and connectivity here, which is also connected to all the ISPs. “We can always take it beyond Malaysia and this would require setting up multiple infrastructures. Wherever we have POP, we can replicate infrastructure there for delivery of content.”
Growth, demand and competition
Chuah also shared about their plans to expand. He explained, “We are gearing up and have already identified 3 countries in the region… we are already building foundation and doing groundwork to ensure everything goes smoothly.” The idea is for data centres offering AIMS’ core services, being built out in 2013. “Whatever services we have here, we potentially could bring to these countries as well, depending on the demand in the market.”
Ahmad admits that businesses can’t run away from the cloud and one of their initiatives has been cloud-enabling applications like caching and streaming.
The benefit of having a majority if not all of the hosting community sitting in their data centres, is that AIMS has their finger literally on the pulse of their demands. Hence, the first in a slew of services that AIMS has in the pipeline – besides caching and streaming, AIMS is also in the midst of identifying and qualifying software vendors who want to deliver their solutions into a cloud environment via AIMS’ platform. Storage is also another demand and Chuah shared that they are in the final stages of finalising a business case to launch the product.
Another area where AIMS makes sense being in, is cloud-based applications that are hosted out of the country. “For example, Office 365 currently resides out of Singapore and there is always this data sovereignty issue. We have looked at that and try to meet that requirement, and we could launch such a service, with the infrastructure being located in our data centres in Malaysia,” Ahmad pointed out. More SaaS from AIMS is expected to arrive in 2013.
Chuah views that they are not competing with the hosting industry that offer similar services. “We value them as our customers. We are keeping out of the consumer space; that’s where a lot of our customers are in. So, we are looking at doing it on a wholesale, white-label basis for partners/customers to offer to their customers or towards the more enterprise-level market.”
Chuah and Ahmad agree, “The direction has always been about how we can help the industry and grow it together.”
Chuah also concludes, “As a service provider and company that is growing so rapidly, it’s a challenge to maintain quality of service… we have to ensure we have adequate resources like skills, as well as maintain SLAs – these are areas we don’t want to be lacking in moving forward. We emphasise a lot on these as we grow.”
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