13 April 2009 - Opening Address By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore, At GridAsia 2009 Official Opening, IDA Multi-Purpose Hall

Opening Address By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore, At GridAsia 2009 Official Opening on 13 April 2009 (Monday) at 9am, IDA Multi-Purpose Hall

Mr Noel Hon, Chairman of the National Grid Advisory Council,
Dr Zhou Songnian, Chief Executive Officer of Platform Computing
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning.

1. It is a pleasure for me to join you this morning for the official opening of GridAsia 2009.

2. GridAsia has grown from strength to strength which is testimony to the development and progress achieved in the field of Grid Computing. At the first GridAsia held in 2005, the debate centred on how we could extend the potential of Grid, which was then largely adopted by those in academia for R&D purposes, to the commercial sector for enterprise use. Today, enterprise Grid solutions have become a reality in large-scale data intensive projects. Since the launch of the National Grid Initiative in November 2008, it has already been taken up by a number of government and commercial organisations including Singapore's National Library Board.

3. I am also pleased to note that this morning also marks the start of the 39th Meeting of the APEC Telecommunications & Information Working Group, or APECTEL, which is running just nearby at the Suntec International Conference and Convention Centre. Of significance is that Grid Computing is an agenda item at APECTEL too and Singapore, since 2007, has been leading APEC member economies in Grid initiatives.

4. Over the next few days, regulators and policy makers from the region will continue to discuss on ways to collaborate in Grid projects that will benefit the region. Similarly, at GridAsia, we want to discuss ways to enable more of such benefits to be realised. Since 2005, GridAsia has offered a platform for us to meet and discuss the technical challenges in this technology.

5. For GridAsia this year, we would like to extend the dialogue on a related and emerging field of large-scale computing, known widely as Cloud Computing. As you know, the shift to Cloud Computing has been gaining traction in the past few years. The shift to this new paradigm in computing is significant, as it entails a fundamental move, away from PC-based applications to Web-based ones. Companies will be delivering to consumers programmes on an on-demand, pay-per-use basis, rather than users procuring their own applications. This means that in time, today's out-of-the-box programmes and applications such as those for word processing, presentations and gaming, may make way for customised programmes which businesses and consumers acquire only when necessary. According to one publication, Cloud Computing is estimated to have accounted for about 13 per cent of global software sales1 in 2008.

6. But even as it gains acceptance by the market, there remains a host of coordination and standardisation efforts on the back-end, which is the challenge we face today. That is why, we need to meet at occasions like this, to raise debate and resolve issues, so that the new paradigm of Cloud Computing can bring even greater benefits and opportunities.

Singapore: A Conducive Environment for Grid and Cloud Computing

7. With an advanced infocomm infrastructure, robust Intellectual Property protection framework and a growing talent pool in large-scale, parallel computing, Singapore can offer a conducive environment for development in Grid and Cloud. Allow me to briefly share with you some of Singapore's initiatives in driving Grid and Cloud Computing.

8. One of Singapore's key Cloud initiatives involves local and global partners, who are working together to raise the competencies and realise the potential of the technology. To boost local expertise, IDA has identified the attraction of high value cloud computing R&D and application development investments as a strategic objective that will support that aim. Already, some of the world leaders in the cloud computing field are working in, or with Singapore. For example Salesforce, the global Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) leader which has just crossed $1 billion in annual revenue, has located its only data centre outside USA, here in Singapore.

9. In July 2008, IDA, together with Yahoo, HP and Intel, jointly launched the Open Cirrus Cloud Computing Testbed initiative, where Singapore contributes as a Centre of Excellence. The testbed currently comprises 2,400 processor cores. As one of the six testbed Centres of Excellence worldwide hosting a cloud computing infrastructure, Singapore welcomes opportunities to identify and discuss areas of cooperation in Cloud Computing. Through this global testbed, we aim to nurture local researchers who will carry out R&D in Internet-scale data-intensive computing, often together with their counterparts from other centres of excellence and technology partners. There are plenty of training opportunities through the testbed. Since its launch, more than 125 locals have attended Hadoop training courses in Singapore conducted by Yahoo experts. One such course will be conducted tomorrow, as part of GridAsia 2009, and I would like to encourage you to sign up for this tutorial if you have not done so.

10. Beyond R&D, we also partner with leaders in Cloud Computing to catalyse the growth and adoption of the technology. Today, I am happy to share that IDA has just entered into a partnership with Platform Computing Inc, a High Performance Computing management software company, to establish a Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) that will help enterprises develop their private clouds. While we have heard much about public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and SalesForce.com, private clouds are equally important and attractive to enterprises.

11. In fact, private clouds will be critical in these early days, to promote adoption among businesses, who may hold back due to considerations and concerns about putting their operations up in the Public Clouds. Private Clouds, will allow businesses to conduct its operations in a more secure manner. In addition, the CIC will assist independent software vendors (ISVs) and start-ups to acquire the know-how and technology to develop services for private clouds. We hope to have more partners work with us, and in particular, to see more enterprises recognise the benefits of Cloud Computing.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing for the Enterprise

12. In the current economic climate, businesses have to pay special attention to cost-cutting measures and explore ways to improve efficiency. Such cost pressures provide a good reason to encourage enterprises, both large and small, to adopt Cloud Computing.

13. For entrepreneurs and small medium enterprises (SMEs), besides upfront cost savings, adoption of cloud services also reduces the need for in-house IT teams, which the company may not be able to retain or develop. This allows start-ups and SMEs an easier path to adopt infocomm in their businesses. By leveraging on Cloud Computing service providers, SMEs can enjoy a better and wider range of IT services, greater security and at a lower cost.

14. For larger enterprises, basic IT support services are increasingly seen to be non-differentiating, and using Cloud Computing services can help to avoid upfront capital investment, reduce operational costs and free up staff and management talent which could be deployed elsewhere.

15. Of course, despite these value drivers of Cloud Computing, there remain some challenges related to interoperability, standards and security, which may stand in the way as barriers to adoption. IDA intends to identify and encourage flagship adoption by large institutions in verticals such as finance, healthcare, SMEs and high performance computing. Working closely with flagship clusters would encourage adoption by the related smaller enterprises as these SMEs are part of the value chain in these clusters.


16. This week will be a busy week for Grid and Cloud activities. Cloud@ SG Summit and CloudCamp will make their debut in GridAsia 2009. Other Grid and Cloud related activities include the APEC Grid Workshop and Exchange on Wednesday 15 April 2009. They are part of the APEC grid initiatives I mentioned earlier. IDA will also be hosting the second Grid Showcase this Thursday, which follows the first held in Calgary, Canada at APECTEL 33 in April 2006. Do make time for these events, which are being held right here in the vicinity of Suntec.

17. Before I conclude, I would like to thank A*STAR, SMU, NTU, and NUS who have co-organised this event with IDA. I would also like to acknowledge the kind corporate sponsorship of Alatum, Platform Computing, and Oracle.

18. On this note, it is my pleasure to now declare GridAsia 2009 officially open.

19. Thank You.


1 Associated Press Technology Review, 23 Dec 2008

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Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023