05 July 2018

Nikita Tkachuk

Business development manager

Data Centre World: was it worth it?

Hi! My name is Nikita and I’m a business development manager at ISPsystem. Recently we have visited Data Centre World (DCW) exhibition in Hong Kong which was dedicated to data centers and IT. In this article I am going to tell you about the exhibition and whether it made any sense to go there.
Data Centre World in Hong Kong is one of the largest Asian conferences dedicated to data centers and IT technologies (don’t get confused with Data CentER World, these are two different events). DCW takes place annually in several locations about each second month: Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt, and Paris. The next Data Centre World will be located in Singapore on October 10-11.

Our purposes and impressions

Over the past years, it has been the second Data Centre World conference for ISPsystem (in 2017 we visited Singapore). If we compare them by size and experience, the conferences in Hong Kong and Singapore are roughly the same both in topics and representatives of companies..
We develop software for hosting and data centers. Our mission for DCW was to talk with current and potential clients, visit interesting booth, listen to speakers, and learn more about the local market. Moreover, we planned to talk to other software developers such as Sunbird, Schneider Electric, and VMware.

An interesting detail: we confirmed the hypothesis that Hong Kong might be a "gateway to China". The Chinese market is rather closed and there are a lot of difficulties in launching foreign software on its territory. For example:

  • providing access to the source code of your software to China government,
  • full localization of the product and local support,
  • promotion on the market. Probably, there may be a full alternative of your product which is already being used by the whole country.

DCW in Hong Kong can give you the entrance to large Chinese companies which are open for a cooperation and know rules of the game on their market. At DCW we were introduced to such Chinese giants as Alibaba Cloud, China Unicom, China Telecom, China Mobile.

We talked with a dozens of companies and found out what they use for automation. Half of them use software from third-party companies, others hold a staff of developers and create solutions by themselves. One provider told me that they still process everything in Excel.

What was this conference about?

Attendees and exhibitors
In 2017, 9000 people attended the conference. The main attendees of the conference are managers, engineers, and chiefs of IT-companies, so the conference is quite a good opportunity to meet and speak with people from the data center industry.
The main exhibitors are hosting providers, data centers, hardware manufactures, and software development companies. Comparing to other hosting conferences, such as CloudFest (ex. WorldHostingDays) and HostingCon (was closed last year), DCW has a strong focus on the data center industry. But the classical hosting and domain providers also have booths there: Gandi, ReadySpace, RackSpace, UDomain, DataPlugs. However, I guess Alibaba Cloud, Google Cloud, Vertiv, AWS, China Unicom, China Telecom had the biggest booths.
Speeches
The conference was divided into five zones: data centers, cloud and cyber security expo, cloud expo asia, big data world, smart IOT. Such division was made for attracting larger audience. Organizers were planning to hold five different conferences in one congress hall, however, it was just one big conference with five sub-zones.
We passed over the whole conference and talked to companies from differents industries, although we were primarily interested in hosting companies and data centers. Up to four speeches were held in different zones at the same time. There were more than 100 speeches a day and a lot of various panel discussions. So generally, there were a lot of options to choose.
Popular topics are the same as in Europe and USA: energy efficiency, DC security, clouds, machine learning and Big Data, cryptocurrency and blockchain, GDPR (the law applies to Asia too). The following are a few examples of the speeches:
All speeches were in English and representatives of the companies were speaking English. It means that you don't have to hire an interpreter from Chinese.
Business etiquette
Before the trip we contacted a few representatives of Hong Kong companies. They willingly agreed to meet us at the exhibition or in town. Even if the proposal was not really interesting for them, they listened to us and answered “maybe” or “I would like to, but I'm not sure that it is a good time now”. Like in China, people from Hong Kong don’t like to say “NO” directly because they don’t want to offend you. They are punctual and always arrive to meetings on time.

As you know, exchanging business cards is a ritual of the business etiquette:

  • You should give and take a business card with both hands, holding it by the edges and slightly bend your head.
  • After receiving a business card, read the information on it and do not put it immediately into the back pocket of your jacket. Make it clear that the person you are talking to is interesting for you and hold the business card for some time in your hands.
  • You should exchange business cards personally with every person, starting with the oldest one or with the person who holds a higher position in the company.
On business conferences there is also time for warm meetings. During our free time we met our friend and partner, the technical director of the hosting company that uses our software for a few years. We exchanged gifts, and he showed us Hong Kong and gave us a tour around their data centre.
Time
The conference was held on May 16 -17 on the island part of Hong Kong. The conference opened at 09:00 AM and closed at 05:30 PM, however after 04:00 PM there were not so many attendees and even exhibitors relaxed and began to wander around the hall. When planning your visit to the DCW conference in Hong Kong, you can arrange meetings after 04:00 PM outside the hall. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything important at the event.

Trip cost and impression of the city

Cost of attending and trip
The conference is free to attend. If you want to visit it with a small booth, it will cost you around 5000$. The trip from Moscow to Hong Kong with a transfer in Beijing will cost 500-600$, a direct flight - 800$. Accommodation in a hotel for two people is 300$ for 4 days, however we lived in a walking distance of the conference hall. The average price for lunch in a cafe is 7$ and in a restaurant is 25$.
Spare time
In Hong Kong there are a lot of places where you can eat local cuisine. There is a number of Michelin restaurant with famous Dim Sum dish. In one of such places the lunch for two cost us 16$. However, be ready for a big queue and note that there may be no food in the evening. On the last day we found one Michelin restaurant with a beijing duck and there was no queue. The reason why there were no people standing there was the sign “Sorry, no food. Please come back tomorrow”. If you would like to visit local shops or have a dinner in a non-tourist place, please note that credit cards are NOT accepted almost everywhere.
In the evening you can just walk around the city and look at the skyscrapers. Believe me, they worth it. One of these skyscrapers is the Hopewell Center which has a transparent elevator and goes up to 55 floors. I believe there you will see the best view of Hong Kong.
It was Data Centre World in Hong Kong. See you!
P.S. Soon my colleague will tell you about how we prepare for such conferences. Subscribe to our blog and don’t miss new posts!

Nikita Tkachuk

Business development manager