In a major step forward in Sri Lanka’s rapid transformation towards becoming a South Asian hub for IT and tech-enabled services, Digital Reality (Pvt) Ltd. Last week launched the country’s first carrier-neutral, high-density data center built to TIA Tier-3 standards and a capacity over 200 racks at Orion City IT Park, Colombo 09 under the brand name OrionStellar.
The launch event featured Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) Chairman, and Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Director General, Oshada Senanayake as Chief Guest, in addition to attracting enthusiastic participation from numerous high-ranking representatives from Sri Lanka’s burgeoning IT, telco, and corporate sectors, as well as academia and key Government officials, a news release on the event said.
Addressing the gathering, Senanayake said: “Today’s launch of Sri Lanka’s first carrier-neutral data centre is part of an interesting paradigm shift that is already underway. So it is great to see entrepreneurs stepping into this vital space and taking up the challenge of establishing the vital infrastructure necessary for Sri Lanka to unleash its true potential. Particularly in the context of unprecedented volatility, technology has been a key enabler in Sri Lanka’s ambitious transformation towards a US$ 3 billion digital economy
“We have continuously and aggressively invested in the next generation of technologies, and today, many of the essential components – including 7 submarine cables that connect us to the rest of the world – are now in place for Sri Lanka to become one of the region’s most attractive destinations for data hosting. This in addition to digitizing Sri Lanka’s public and private sector. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. Other SAARC countries too are making bold advancements and we cannot afford to fall behind.
“We see immense growth potential for Sri Lanka through the embedding of artificial intelligence and machine learning into public and private sector operations. Together with the robust 5G capabilities that are being set in place today, we believe that Sri Lanka will be able to unleash hyper-growth. Today’s launch of a truly globally competitive data centre is a vitally important advancement in this direction,”
The newly launched high density data center is designed to offer world-class services to support the rapidly escalating demand for computing power in an increasingly digital Sri Lankan economy. It promises the highest energy efficiency and power density up to 15 kW per rack with a total power capacity of 1.5 MW.
“The launch of Sri Lanka’s first, and most power efficient high density data center and the impressive capabilities it offers represents a historic milestone in the development of the island’s IT infrastructure. It is also a momentous step in our mission to radically simplify digital infrastructure challenges for local and regional enterprises, and drastically improve the speed at which they conduct their business.” Digital Realty Chairman, Rajendra Theagarajah said.
“Sri Lanka enjoys several uniquely valuable natural and cultivated advantages which make it an ideal option for safely and reliably storing data at scale. Geographically, we are situated just offshore of one of the largest emerging IT economies and in close proximity to key markets in Asia,” Orion City Founder/Director and Digital Realty Managing Director, Jeevan Gnanam said.
“Our nation also possesses outstanding IT talent and adopts one of the most proactive stances in the region with IT and connected infrastructure. With our DC now online, we will be able to provide clients with best-in-class, globally competitive services to accelerate their digitalization journeys, rationalize core infrastructure costs, and establish stronger levels of security and redundancy, all while reducing energy costs and contributing towards a green and prosperous economy,” Gnanam added.
Built in compliance with the latest ISO 27001 standards and global data center standards (TIA-942 Rated 3), the new data center will deliver the highest levels of reliability, efficiency, and redundancy with 99.98% uptime. The center features power infrastructure with 2 (N+1) UPS systems with 30 minutes battery backup up time, and an N+1 generator system supported with 72-hour fuel bulk tanks ensuring reliable and uninterrupted power supply.
Notably, the facility was also designed with an unmatched focus on environmental sustainability enabled by an in-row cooling system with best-in-class efficiency ratings. As a result, OrionStellar guarantees the best power usage efficiency (PUE) with a design PUE of 1.4. This will translate to power savings up to 40% for clients migrating their IT loads to OrionStellar. The facility also features an unloading bay ready to receive customer inventory for hosting and a staging area to test equipment prior to entering the data hall.
OrionStellar is poised to offer an array of digital infrastructure solutions and value-added managed services to enterprises. It will support the rapidly escalating demand for computing power in an increasingly digital Sri Lankan economy and the region at large, with a special emphasis on providing highly cost-effective data offshoring services for regional enterprise powerhouses.
The long-term business purpose is to “simplify enterprise digital infrastructure challenges to accelerate digitalization and growth” according to COO of OrionStellar, Nalaka W. Bandara, a specialist in enterprise communication solutions and data center businesses with over 20 years of collective experience.
OrionStellar colocation solutions have been designed to meet the needs of different business segments with varying requirements. The facility has already designated white labeled space for telcos and larger MNCs, featuring dedicated cages with biometric access control for large enterprises. Individual racks with biometric or lockable doors and U level hosting for SME and startup hosting needs are among the product options complemented with “Remote Pair of Hands” service as a value addition.
Notably, each co-location space or rack will be individually monitored, even to U level, for power delivery and consumption to ensure that clients only pay for what they use, enabling cost visibility and control in their digital infrastructure investments.
Further, the OrionStellar data center offers an array of value-added services including storage as a service, back up as a service to secure mission critical enterprise data, disaster recovery solutions during unexpected downtime and cost-effective data center migration services with minimal disruption to core business functions.
Orion Towers at Orion City is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and a full spectrum of services, offering prime workspace solutions ranging from custom-built, office spaces, dedicated seating space, shared seating and BCP Seating. OrionStellar client companies can conveniently co-locate their IT Network Operations Centers (NOCs) closest to the data center with convenient access to banks, shopping centers, recreational facilities, food-courts, and fine-dining restaurants.
“The OrionStellar data center is guaranteed to unleash a new wave of tech-enabled opportunities across the entire spectrum of local enterprises – from SMEs and tech-startups to large corporates and regional MNCs,” Jeevan Gnanam asserted. He further explained that “with the launch of this high-density data center, we aim to establish the most secure and scalable infrastructure to position Sri Lanka as a hub in this digital economy.”
ComBank partners with PayHere to offer Q+ users a unique eCommerce experience
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has partnered with PayHere, Sri Lanka’s largest Aggregated Internet Payment Gateway Service, to offer users of its Q+ Payment App a unique, user-friendly and secure eCommerce experience.
Commercial Bank customers can now conveniently pay for their purchases via the Q+ app to over 3300 registered PayHere Online Payment Service enabled merchants. The Bank’s Credit, Debit and Prepaid Card holders who pay through Q+, the fastest-growing QR app in the country, will not be required to tap in their card details as this information is already stored on the app, the Bank said.
Payments to PayHere merchants via the Q+ Online Pay facility will enhance customer convenience as the transaction will only require the entering of users’ mobile numbers registered with the app. Disbursements via Q+ require authentication using a static PIN which ensures the safety and security of transactions, making the Q+ App more secure than a normal card as the customers’ sensitive data is not transmitted to merchant websites.
TAMAP drives Stakeholder Forum for Good Agriculture Practice
The inaugural meeting of the GAP Stakeholder Forum was held with the support of the Technical Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture Programme (TAMAP) at the Department of Agriculture in Peradeniya on 17 November 2021. Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.
The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programme, introduced by the Department of Agriculture in 2016, was a promising step taken to minimise adverse impacts of agriculture on the ecosystem and human health while meeting steadily rising demand for food. Although the programme had an encouraging start, the overall conversion of farmers to implementing GAP remained low. Over the past six years, 1500 farmers registered as GAP producers out of the 1.8 million farmers in Sri Lanka. To align with the current policy of the Sri Lankan Government to improve ecological friendliness of farming, it is important to transform all production units towards GAP farms.
Studies showed that to achieve this goal, the GAP implementation strategies needed to be updated and infused into the mainstream agriculture, facilitating a quick transformation of the current approach towards a macro-level system. Therefore, the requirement for a rapid strategizing of such an approach followed by periodic review of GAP performance arose. This initiated the need for a stakeholder forum.
The key purpose of the forum is to provide a common platform for key stakeholders to meet in formulating a strategy to mainstream SL GAP, propose a way forward for implementation such recommendations, and to regularly review program performance and adopt remedial action to achieve GAP objectives.
Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture who chaired the Forum in his opening statement commented, “GAP programme has emerged a solution to challenges faced by Sri Lankan agriculture today to improve safety of users and ensuring good environmental performance. Reinforced by facilitating legislation and approved national standards, GAP programme provides a strong foundation towards addressing above concerns.”.
Over forty participants were present at the forum, representing the various stakeholder groups comprising producers, distributers, SL GAP team, academics, and market players. Ms D. S. Ratnasinghe, Addl. Director (Agribusiness) and Dr W. M. W. Weerakoon, National Coordinator outlined the status of the GAP programme and the challenges faced.
The deliberations during the forum were broken down into five main areas: Technical, financial, institutional, and social problems faced by GAP stakeholders on maintaining production, supply, product quality, and consumer trust. Gaps in technology transfer and adoption, marketing and quality control measures and means for increased rate of adoption and GAP farm certification; Gaps in current GAP process and procedures, user friendliness and applicability; Future technological needs towards increasing production, productivity, product quality and ecosystem sustainability; and Policy needs for increased adoption of GAP to mainstream GAP into national agriculture agenda.
Prof. G. Pushpakumara, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya and Ms Jayantha Ilankoon, ADG (Dev) moderated the forum through group activity, outcome presentations and strategic discussions on the way forward.
Concluding the forum, Dr Nihal Atapattu, stated, “TAMAP, along with the European Union that provided the funding support is very pleased to have assisted to launch several interventions that would promote recognition of GAP as a premier means of strengthening Sri Lankan agriculture in sustainably meet requirements of the domestic and export markets. TAMAP expects that the Stakeholder Forum launched today will be a milestone event in advancing GAP to achieve its potential in Sri Lanka”.
HNB’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments wins Daraz award
HNB has been recognized by Daraz for exceptional contribution to its growth, in an independent endorsement of Sri Lanka’s leading private bank’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments throughout the country.
The award, for the ‘Card Base with Highest Overall Growth’, was presented to HNB at the ‘Daraz Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’. HNB, which ranks among Daraz’s best banking partners, recorded the highest growth on total payment volume, buyer engagement and total transactions month-on-month, for both credit and debit cards for the year 2020-2021.
“This award is an important validation how the local economy – both businesses and consumers – are benefiting from HNB’s cohesive programme to drive greater adoption of e-commerce and digital payments,” HNB Head of Cards, Gauthami Niranjan said. “These efforts are particularly significant at present, given how digital and contactless payments can assist in reducing the spread of the pandemic and support the Bank’s and the country’s vision to transform Sri Lanka to a cashless economy.”
Currently, HNB Cardholders enjoy multiple offers on Daraz, Sri Lanka’s leading online marketplace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Group. These include zero-interest instalment plans up to 48 months with attractive discounts for HNB Credit and Debit Cards and 10% off site-wide on Daraz for all HNB Credit Cards on purchases made during Saturdays. In addition, HNB tied up with Daraz for its 11:11 and Black Friday sales, which provided HNB Cardholders access to a range of offers and massive discounts.
HNB has been a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s banking industry in the digital banking and digital payments space. These include the launch of digital wallet and payment app, HNB SOLO and introducing Asia’s first-ever fitness-linked savings product in the form of the HNB FIT Savings Account.
With 254 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically-innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd. The bank was also ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for five consecutive years. HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020.
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