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Sri Lanka’s first carrier-neutral and high-density data center launches at Orion City IT Park

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Digital Realty Director Supun Weerasinghe, Digital Realty Chairman Rajendra Theagarah, ICTA Chairman and TRCSL Director General Oshada Senanayake, Digital Realty Chief Executive Officer/MD Jeevan Gnanam and Digital Realty Director Pradeep De Almeida

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. 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.

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.”



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Sri Lanka Tourism commands attention at World Routes 2021

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Sri Lanka made a huge splash at the 26th World Route Development Forum (World Routes 2021), which took place in Milan, Italy, recently. By making its presence felt at the forum, Sri Lanka pitched its destination for global airlines to consider it as one of the top holiday destinations for the upcoming winter season and beyond. Sri Lanka Tourism officials were able to directly engage with decision-makers from the global route development community, including world’s air services, while taking advantage of dedicated in-person and virtual event days combining extensive meeting opportunities, exclusive industry insight and first-class networking opportunities.

The Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, expertly leveraged on the platform provided by World Routes 2021 to highlight Sri Lanka’s 5-year global campaign and growth potential. Her keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session with attendees in collaboration with Major General (Rtd.), G.A Chandrasiri , Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services. Through the duration of the Forum, Sri Lanka Tourism was present on all social media platforms for driving brand awareness, pushing Destination Sri Lanka to the front and centre of global travel and tourism operators present.

With the Sri Lankan Government declaring this a growth decade, Sri Lanka Tourism has been aligned to the government’s vision as enshrined in the 10 pillar strategy document. Over the last two years, Sri Lanka Tourism has advanced the industry across various factors to bring prosperity to all stakeholders and to ensure Sri Lanka tourism fulfills its potential. Concurrently, with a high vaccination rate, Sri Lanka has opened up to fully vaccinated tourists, offering them a safe and exciting stay.

One of the key pillars has been connectivity and the efforts made have been fruitful – with several European and regional airlines resuming direct flights, new routes being established and increased frequency of flights to Sri Lanka which will boost tourism for the upcoming peak season.

Apart from elaborating on the strategy, Kimarli Fernando engaged in an absorbing Q&A session with global airline industry stakeholders. During her keynote speech she elaborated on Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, UNESCO sites and other cultural and nature offerings. One of the highlights of her speech was tourist investment. Tourism has been attracting substantial investment despite the challenges emanating from the pandemic. Between March 2020 – June 2021, the Government of Sri Lanka has attracted over US$950 million in investments, received 64 project proposals and approved 38 projects to the value of $102.38 Million. These ventures will be executed under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). In order to attract strategic investors, the Investor Relations Unit was launched as a single point of contact for all tourism investments. In addition, the Government of Sri Lanka is extending a host of financial incentives and fast-track processes to get projects off the ground within the shortest possible time.

Given the recent tie-ups with France tourism operators and a similar push in more key western markets, the brand awareness of Sri Lanka is growing in strategic markets.

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ComBank wins Daraz award for ‘Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’

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The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was presented the award for ‘The Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’ at the recent ‘Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’ of Daraz, South Asia’s premier online shopping marketplace.

The Bank was awarded this title for empowering the Daraz platform by generating the highest number of transactions by both credit and debit card bases and the highest number of unique buyers’ engagement during the financial year 2020-21. This is the second consecutive year that the Bank was honoured with this award.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has been an Internet Payment (IPG) service provider to Daraz from 2018, and has since partnered with the online retailer to power ‘Daraz 11.11,’ the world’s biggest online sale.

The two organisations are working together to offer diversified and unique offers to customers with a view of offering them attractive value additions, the Bank said. Commercial Bank cardholders can enjoy periodic discounts at Daraz with the offers structured by the Bank, and the convenience of Easy Payment Plans of up to 60 months.

Launched in 2012, the Daraz eCommerce site has an active presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal. The marketplace has over 2.5 million products in diverse categories such as consumer electronics, household goods, beauty, fashion, sports equipment, and groceries. It was acquired by the Alibaba Group in 2018.

Commercial Bank Credit and Debit Cards offer year-round promotions covering a wide variety of services. Commercial Bank was the first bank to offer loyalty rewards for both Credit and Debit Card holders under its Max Loyalty Rewards Points scheme. The Bank was also a pioneer in extending promotional discount offers which were traditionally only offered for Credit Cards to its Debit Cards.

Commercial Bank cards are the fastest growing cards in Sri Lanka and enjoy market leadership in Credit and Debit Card cumulative point-of-sale usage. The Bank offers a variety of Credit Cards in the Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers of Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay Cards, as well as Visa Signature, World Mastercard, Visa Infinite, UnionPay Asia Prestige Platinum and UnionPay Asia Prestige Diamond Cards in the premium segment. The cards are equipped with ‘Tap ’n Go’ NFC technology and are backed by a strong NFC Point-of-Sale (POS) network.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 931 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.

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Banks’ Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum appoints new committee for 2021/22

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Seated from left - Varuna Koggalage (Committee Member), Numair Cassim (Vice President), Charitha Jayawickrama (President), Nirosha Perera (Secretary), Dulan Abeyratne (Committee Member) Standing from left - Dhanjaya Dayananda (Committee Member), Chandima Samarasinghe (Outgoing Secretary), John Premanath (Outgoing Vice President), Maduwantha Liyanage (Immediate Past President/Committee Member), Jayan Fernando (Committee Member). Absent from picture - Committee Members Kushlaini Allis and Gamini Jayaweera

The Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum of Banks appointed its 5th committee recently. The inaugural committee meeting was held on 17th November 2021 subsequent to the AGM held on 3rd November 2021. Charitha Jawawickrama of Sampath Bank was appointed as the President, Numair Cassim (Amana Bank) as Vice President and Nirosha Perera (Union Bank) as Secretary. Others in the committee include Varuna Koggalage (Seylan Bank), Dulan Abeyratne (HSBC), Dhanjaya Dayananda (SDB), Jayan Fernando (DFCC), Kushlaini Allis (NTB) and Gamini Jayaweera (NSB). The outgoing committee included Maduwantha Liyanage of BOC (Immediate Past President), John Premanath (Commercial Bank) and Chandima Samarasinghe (Cargills Bank).

The Forum was established to build strong relationships amongst the Licensed Commercial Banks and Licensed Specialized Banks in dealing with new developments and challenges pertinent to the industry. It also supports Internal Audit professionals to enhance comradeship and encourages participation of Banks to share knowledge and industry best practices. Since re-establishing in 2015, the forum has become an integral body that supports and assists Banks with regard to common audit related concerns in the industry.

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