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Industry News(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 01,2002)

Vol 1, 2002

Industry News

Spending On IT Services Predicted To Soar Soon

Magic Conjures Regional Home

University Applies Starfire Power To Gain 'Supercomputer' Status

Spending On IT Services Predicted To Soar Soon

DESPITE global economic uncertainty, Asian demand for IT services, especially in Hong Kong, continues to outpace the rest of the world, according to the US-based research and advisory firm Gartner Inc.

Revenue from Hong Kong IT services in 2001 is estimated at US$1.5bn, up 12% on the previous year. Forecasts call for the industry to maintain solid growth, reaching US$2.6bn by 2005.

While the economic slowdown and uncertainty arising from terrorism and its aftermath may dampen growth in many markets this year, Gartner says the demand for IT services in Hong Kong will surge at double-digit rates from 2003-2005.

"Increased confidence and a business upturn will prompt renewed demand among IT-service end-users who will be inspired by technology innovations," says Gartner's research director for the Asia-Pacific IT services market Rolf Jester.

"Our research shows IT management services continuing to excel despite sluggish conditions. Beginning in late 2002, we expect services related to networking, security and telecoms technology, as well as e-business initiatives, to be strong drivers of demand. This will provide vendors with more opportunities for new business."

Development and integration will remain major segments for the IT services industry in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region.

"The Asia Pacific market for IT services continues to outpace other regions, with growth doubling the world average and nearly tripling that of North America," says Gartner IT services senior analyst Jacqueline Heng.

"This trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Hong Kong remains a sophisticated market with a healthy outlook for demand in IT services."

Business process and transaction management services are a relatively small sector, but should expand dramatically as enterprises turn to more external suppliers and maximize returns by focusing even more on core business competencies.

Gartner Inc is a research and advisory firm assisting more than 11,000 clients to understand technology and spur business growth. Founded in 1979, the company is based in Stamford, Connecticut.


Magic Conjures Regional Home

IN a major initiative to enhance its business activities in Greater China and South Korea, Magic Solutions, a division of California-based Network Associates, has established a North Asia regional sales office in Hong Kong.

This new presence is Magic Solutions' strategic response to strong opportunities anticipated for its Internet-based service applications. Setting up permanently in Hong Kong is a vital part of the company's Asia-wide expansion. A strategic location enables the e-service solutions supplier to respond rapidly to regional market changes.

Initially, Magic Solutions North Asia targets enterprises and organizations in major service sectors like finance, health care and government. The Hong Kong office will guide localization of Magic Solutions' products into Chinese and other Asian languages.

"There is already significant awareness of a need for service desk-based applications as more companies and enterprises migrate to e-business models and practices," says Magic Solutions North Asia regional manager Alan Chan.

"Although this shift lagged significantly behind the US, Hong Kong is ahead of regional rivals in implementing service desk solutions. Products from Magic Solutions enable Asian enterprises and organizations to efficiently deliver high levels of service."

Magic Solutions aims to increase its market share, develop channels and work closely with partners and customers. The company is developing a distribution network to penetrate markets on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan.

University Applies Starfire Power To Gain 'Supercomputer' Status

Sun Microsystems Greater China global sales president Daniel Yu (left) joins CityU Computer Services Centre director K.H. Poon in flexing new computer muscle.
CITY University of Hong Kong (CityU) is Sun Microsystems' first customer in the Greater China region to use the full processing potential of a Sun Enterprise 10000 server. The university has upgraded one of its five Starfires (as Sun E10000s are known) to the maximum of 64 UltraSPARC II 64-bit processors.

The 64-CPU Starfire is used for high-performance computing research and to host Sun and CityU's joint Enterprise Competency Centre. CityU became the first Starfire user in Asia soon after the E10000 was launched in 1997. The university's data centre houses more Starfires than any other educational institution in the region.

"Five years ago our goal was to do more with less by consolidating the workload of several smaller servers onto the Starfire, thus reducing our operational overheads," says CityU Computing Services Centre (CSC) director K.H. Poon.

The CSC is responsible for managing computing facilities in 60 departments for e-education, administration and research initiatives.

The Sun Starfire is noted for its ability to support multiple independent and dynamically configurable systems called domains. The CSC operates four of the university's five Starfires, which are split into 24 domains ranging from 2-64 CPUs.

"It actually took a while to reach 64 CPUs because of US government export restrictions. When we got our first Starfire, we were restricted to 21 processors," says Poon.

"Running our Starfire with 64 processors as a single domain clearly puts us in supercomputer territory, which is good news for our applied physicists. It enables them to tackle studies in weather patterns and air pollution models, both classic applications for brute-force computer processing power."

Among other high-performance applications at CityU are statistical analysis of massive data collected online or offline, development of parallel algorithms for computational electromagnetic and CAD software, computer-aided geometric design, feature recognition from 3-D models, phase synchronization in chaotic systems and study of large molecules.

The CSC decided in 1999 to consolidate applications on its Sun Starfire infrastructure to increase staff productivity and ease overheads. Poon says the CSC's old Digital Alpha systems are being decommissioned.

Four Starfires give the CSC plenty of horsepower and the flexibility to deal with variable workloads. For example, prior to any new academic year the student registration system can have thousands of concurrent users.

To cope with such peaks, CSC employees allocate more CPU and memory resources to the domains needing them. Once the rush ends, these resources return to normal applications, all without the need to shut down the Starfires or any domains.

In fact, after almost five years in service, the CSC had started to run out of headroom on its Sun Starfire infrastructure to handle the university's relentless demand for centrally managed computing resources. Yet the CSC director is quite sanguine.

"We can always look at putting in a new Sun Fire 15K to keep things moving next year. Given how successful the server consolidation program has been, I see no good reason to change our core computing platform," says Poon.


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