Friday, June 14, 2024

Australia: A must for global digital infrastructure plans

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Digital technology’s undeniable impact often overshadows the vital role of underlying infrastructure. At Equinix, we identify these interconnected regions as ‘digital corridors’, forming the foundation for strong digital ecosystems. Businesses unite here, sharing data, fostering collaborations, and creating exciting market prospects.

Australia serves as a compelling example of a digital corridor, boasting impressive connectivity advancements within and between its major metropolitan regions. Substantial investments have enabled swift and secure digital traffic movement, not only within Australia but also across continents. Today, Australia plays a pivotal role as a vital thoroughfare for global data traffic and is an emerging digital powerhouse in its own right.

Great Southern Route: Enabling global digital stability

Moving internet traffic over trusted connections is a cybersecurity requirement for businesses and a matter of national security for governments, and why Australia is in a uniquely strategic position to help make this happen.

By routing through Australia, subsea cable operators gain a strategic advantage of bypassing potential risks arising from geopolitical conflicts and natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region. This positioning establishes Australia as one of the most secure and dependable locations for handling transpacific digital traffic originating from the West Coast of the United States.

In addition to its many connections with the U.S., Australia provides vital connectivity with the Middle East. This connectivity can occur directly through the Oman Australia Cable (OAC) or indirectly via Southeast Asia. From the Middle East, digital traffic can seamlessly traverse through the Red Sea and access the Mediterranean Sea digital corridor, establishing an efficient transpacific route that interlinks the United States and Europe.

Named the Great Southern Route, this network of cable connections presents a pivotal alternative to the conventional transatlantic route, which links Europe with the East Coast of the U.S. Crucially, from a cybersecurity standpoint, digital traffic can pass through the entire Great Southern Route while always staying within democratic nations, and Australia is the critical linchpin that makes that possible. Consequently, organisations that need to move sensitive data globally do so confidently while using trusted infrastructure.

Growing digital capacity

Investment in connectivity across the Pacific has continued with Southern Cross NEXT. Launched in 2022, this network offers direct, low-latency connectivity between Sydney and Los Angeles, complemented by a landing site in New Zealand. It was built to provide additional capacity along the same transpacific route as the original Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN), established in 2000, and the Hawaiki cable connecting Sydney to Hillsboro, Oregon.

The rising demand for cloud services, content, digital media, and e-commerce capabilities is driving the imperative for additional capacity between Australia and the U.S., reflecting the growing maturity of Australia’s digital economy. With the original two-pronged SCCN, the Hawaiki cable, and the new Southern Cross NEXT route, organisations have several options to move digital traffic between the two countries, enabling optimal traffic balancing and redundancy. Digital ecosystems across both countries are now able to exchange traffic quickly and reliably, closely linking the digital economies of the two nations.

Expanding digital connectivity

Demonstrating its commitment to enhancing digital connectivity within the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian Government has undertaken significant steps to forge closer digital connectivity with other nations. Notably, the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, in effect since 2020. This stands as one of the world’s most ambitious digital free trade agreements and speaks to the common vision the two nations share for growing the digital economy across borders. Within the agreement, both countries have cooperated to create digital standards that will enable easier cross-border data portability and allow organisations to collaborate on projects related to AI, the Internet of Things, electronic payments and other emerging technologies.

Organisations can deploy infrastructure in both countries while supporting each other. Deploying in Perth instead of constrained markets like Singapore enables direct, low-latency connectivity through the Australia-Singapore Cable. This facilitates business growth in Singapore without the need for expanding infrastructure there.

Australia serves as a pivotal digital hub in the Oceania region, with direct links to New Zealand. Moreover, it plays a crucial role in facilitating digital connectivity to traditionally underserved island nations and territories. For instance, in addition to connecting Australia and New Zealand with the western United States, the Southern Cross NEXT cable has landing sites in Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati.

Transforming bandwidth into business value

Subsea cable landings play a vital role in supplying Australia with essential digital capacity, supporting our thriving digital economy. However, the real excitement lies on dry land as interconnected digital ecosystems of service providers and enterprises emerge, transforming this bandwidth into significant business value.

According to our Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2023, Melbourne and Sydney are poised for remarkable growth in interconnection bandwidth over the next five years. Melbourne is forecast to lead with an impressive compound annual growth rate of 53%, while Sydney follows at 39%. This means Melbourne is expected to grow interconnection bandwidth faster than any other metro. This is a clear indicator that business partners in both metros are exchanging more data as they offer digital services to one another and collaborate to drive innovation.

With vendor-neutral colocation IBX data centres in Australia’s six largest metros, we provide the backbone for the Australian digital economy. Together with the help of our leading global partners, we’re helping Australian organisations do what they do best, whether it is capital markets in Sydney, mining and critical minerals in Perth, or government services in Canberra.

To keep up with growing demand, we’re expanding our footprint and capacity last year, announcing two new xScale data centres in Sydney for the hyperscale market. We’ve also emerged as a leader in pursuing sustainable operations. Along with a consortium of other businesses, we received approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to partner in negotiating green energy purchasing. This is an important step toward unlocking long-term power purchase agreements that will help us support the growth of renewable energy infrastructure in Australia.

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