Aspiration to turn Vietnam into a Digital Hub of the region
Overcoming a lot of difficulties since its establishment in 2008, CMC Telecom - a member of CMC Corporation has quickly developed into a leading company in terms of digital infrastructure, cloud computing technology, data center and information security services. CMC Telecom has also become a spearhead with critical contributions to the heritage that CMC Corporation has been creating over the last 30 years. After 15 years, CMC Telecom today has successfully transformed from a traditional ISP to a CSP, thereby assisting in the goal of turning Vietnam into a Digital Hub of not only APAC but also the world. This strategy is part of the mission for Vietnam to become a developed country through digital technology and to use the technology to serve and conquer the world, in line with the affirmation of CMC President Nguyen Trung Chinh.
On this special occasion, we had an opportunity to interview Mr. Nguyen Trung Chinh - Chairman of Board of Directors/Executive President of CMC Corporation on the Aspiration of CMC Telecom to turn Vietnam into a Digital Hub of the region.
The draft planning of national information and communication infrastructure mentioned Vietnam's potentials to become a Digital Hub. As the head of a large digital infrastructure provider in the market, how do you assess those potentials?
The most visible potential of our country is its favorable geographical location, which plays a key role in economy, finance and delivery of logistic services to countries in the region and the world. In addition, we also have a long coastline, allowing the development of submarine optical cable systems and large landing stations to expand connection to countries around the world.
The Government is currently having a lot of open mechanisms and policies in place to create the conditions for science and technology development as well as innovation. Over the years, companies like CMC Telecom have been constantly investing in digital infrastructure such as cable systems; modern, large-scale and regional-level neutral data centers; high-tech ecosystems; and the ability to rapidly develop new technologies such as cloud computing.
Also, Vietnam possesses a huge and valuable resource, which is a young population where many people have passion for science and mathematics as well as possess high-level programming skills. With appropriate investment and training, I think this will be the outstanding strength of Vietnam compared to other countries in the region and in the world.
It can be said that we are at the right time and having favorable geographical and social conditions to become the next digital hub of the region. I believe in the assessments outlined in the draft plan, i.e. the ability for Vietnam to become a digital hub for data transfer, connection, storage and processing of the region and the world; the possibility of establishing at least one data center to serve the needs in the region and the world by 2025; and the likelihood of completing and developing a Digital Hub technology ecosystem by 2030.
In your opinion, what roadmap, plan and preparation are needed for Vietnam to soon realize its goal of becoming a regional Digital Hub?
As I said before, we have lots of advantages to become a Digital Hub. However, to accomplish this goal, Vietnam needs a synchronous and multi-dimensional strategy to maximize those advantages and at the same time to stay ahead of the game. In my opinion, we need to do well in five aspects.
The first is digital infrastructure: Vietnam needs to invest heavily in digital infrastructure, including 5G mobile network, fixed broadband network, submarine cable systems, large-scale neutral data centers, cloud computing platforms and infrastructure consisting of millions of virtual servers for fast and efficient connection in order to meet the needs of enterprises and users.
The second is human resources: Vietnam already has abundant human resources; however, we must enhance the quality and quantity of IT human resources, especially engineers and experts in technology and data fields.
The third is innovation encouragement: With the current potential in technology and human resources, it is necessary to establish and develop innovation centers as well as to encourage promising start-ups and technology projects.
The fourth is the creation of a favorable legal environment for investment: Vietnam needs to update and promulgate regulations and standards in line with global digital trends, creating conditions for enterprises to operate effectively and in compliance with law. We can also consider offering tax incentives, financial and legal supports to domestic and foreign companies that wish to invest in the technology sector in Vietnam.
Last but not least is information security: As we become a digital hub, building a strong cyber security system is a prerequisite to protect the data of people and businesses and to enhance digital trust.
Fortunately, these aspects are being focused in synchronously and continuously by the Government, and enterprises like CMC Telecom are determined to implement them. I believe Vietnam will become a Digital Hub of the region and play a central role in the digital technology sector in Asia.
With the aspiration to turn Vietnam into a regional Digital Hub, what are the strategies and actions that CMC has in place for Vietnam to achieve this goal by 2030?
As early as 2017, CMC determined its vision of conquering the digital world with the slogan of "Aspire to inspire the Digital World" when positioning its new strategy. Four years ago, in 2019, CMC completed the proposal to turn Vietnam into a Digital Hub.
Thanks to the strategic orientation of the Government, and being the only telecommunications infrastructure enterprise in Vietnam with foreign shareholder, CMC Telecom has taken action to gradually realize this goal. That journey is reflected in three main factors, which are also the prerequisites for a Digital Hub, namely: connectivity infrastructure, DC/Cloud and data services.
In terms of connectivity infrastructure, in December 2017, CMC Telecom invested 500 billion VND to build the Asean Grid - Cross Vietnam Cable System (A-Grid CVCS) which connects directly to key submarine cable systems of the world. For the first time ever, Vietnam owns a land-based fiber optic cable system that directly connects to the Southeast Asian belt, crossing Hongkong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. This is also the first brick in the wall for Vietnam to become a data transit point through a seamless, stable and comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure system. Through these "blood vessels", data centers and cloud computing platforms are connected, helping to shape a Digital Hub.
Also in 2017, CMC Telecom was among the first companies to actively build a Make-in-Vietnam cloud computing platform (CMC Cloud) with the determination to attract data storage on a Vietnamese cloud platform. It is crystal clear to us that when data are brought to Vietnam, there must be more warehouses, i.e. more international standard data centers. In August 2022, CMC Telecom achieved this goal with the launching of its third data center in Tan Thuan (Ho Chi Minh City). This new-generation DC is the most modern and secure data center in Vietnam as well as in the region.
The last piece of the Vietnamese Digital Hub picture is data services based on the infrastructure mentioned above. Recently, we have added two more service fields, namely IT Outsourcing and Cyber Security, with the goal of providing more comprehensive digital transformation solutions and services that are secure and safe according to the highest international standards, so that domestic and foreign organizations and enterprises are ensured to store their data at CMC Telecom.
How does the birth of Tan Thuan Data Center, along with its two predecessors that are already in operation, affect the Digital Hub aspiration of CMC Telecom in particular and of Vietnam in general?
Over the course of our business, we have served thousands of Vietnamese enterprises on their digital transformation journey. Nonetheless, there is still one thing that keeps us up at night: enterprises are constantly giving their data - i.e. their digital assets - to foreign technology giants by using their platforms. If the domestic digital infrastructure is used for data exploitation, it will not only bring great values to the digital economy of the country but also ensure national information security.
Thus, aside from the goal of becoming a Digital Hub, we also want to build a strong, modern and secure data center ecosystem to compete and attract businesses to store their data in Vietnam.
In the digital infrastructure ecosystem, if telecom infrastructure is the blood vessel, then data center is the heart that pumps the blood to all parts of the body. With a strong heart and smooth blood vessels, the body stays in shape and is ready for any fight. Therefore, we are always aware of making the best investment in these two areas.
The "heart", i.e. Data Center, is not a new concept in Vietnam. However, for our country to become a Digital Hub of the region, we must step up the game by meeting standards at a higher level. That is why CMC decided to build a world-class Data Center ecosystem.
Following the other two data centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Thuan Data Center - which was established in August 2022 - is the top modern and secure data center not only in Vietnam but also in Southeast Asia. This is the first domestic DC that possesses Uptime Tier III certification in terms of design and construction, and has met lots of criteria to be ready for Uptime Tier IV. This infrastructure not only enhances data storage in terms of both quantity and quality, but also increases security and ensures that a huge amount of data can be received, transferred, connected, stored and processed according to certified international standards.
With this DC, we are proud to take Vietnam one step closer to its goal of becoming the region's Digital Hub.
Starting from zero experience to becoming the "captain" who leads a technology corporation with more than 30 years of age, what makes you feel the proudest of CMC Telecom - one of the pillars of CMC Corporation after 15 years of development?
In terms of age, CMC Telecom can be seen as a young company compared to the corporation. However, the achievements earned by CMC Telecom have contributed to make the name CMC in particular and the Telecommunication - IT industry of Vietnam in general known.
Today, CMC Telecom can take pride in being a pioneer in digital transformation and digital platform construction, with cyber security solutions of international stature. The company is successful not only in Vietnam but also in the international arena, serving clients in the top 500 global enterprises. Even during the pandemic, CMC was still able to send thousands of engineers to Samsung R&D center, making Vietnam a strategic "stronghold" of Samsung globally.
CMC Cloud, the platform which we spent nearly 10 years to develop, is currently accounting for 25% of domestic cloud market shares, and is honored in the Top 10 Best Make-in -Vietnam digital platforms. Not only serving as a bridge for Vietnamese enterprises to get closer to the world through modern connectivity, telecommunications and technology infrastructure, CMC Telecom is also a senior partner in providing services of world technology giants such as AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. to Vietnamese customers.
All this success once again confirms the appropriate strategy of CMC Telecom for digital infrastructure - one of the four key areas of investment of the corporation, and contribute to realizing the ambition of making CMC a global corporation by 2025.
A man at the age of 15 is full of strength and ready to break through. The same goes for CMC Telecom. I believe that with unremitting efforts and the right orientation, CMC Telecom will become a leading digital infrastructure provider not only in Vietnam but also in the region, and thereby making the dream of Vietnam as a Digital Hub of the region and the world come true.