Johar and the IDC’s freedom of expression…

Indonesian version

It all started simply enough when I asked Pontus, Yahoo’s! head of Indonesia, if he had any judges he would like to suggest for Yahoo’s! first Open Hack Day in Southeast Asia which would take place in Jakarta. Pontus mentioned Johar Alam – founder of IDC Indonesia. To get a sense of how different IDC is from most hosting providers one only has to read their byline:

IDC Indonesia the First Neutral Data Center in Indonesia.

At first you might pass over that statement without grasping the significance of it. First Neutral Data Center in Indonesia but from my experiences around the globe I would argue that this is a first for the world.

rack_idcTo my left is a common photo one might snap in any hosting center in any part of the world. Some might say that the rack looks a little cluttered, if not overstuffed and in need of organizing but the photo cannot properly describe what it is you are witnessing. This photo shows that every single Indonesian internet service provider is connected across one rack and all plugged into some gigabit switches hooked into the main IDC backbone. No peering arrangements, no contracts and no funny business – the entire Indonesian Internet is hooked together and one man made it happen – Johar.

When I first met Johar I had no idea of this situation and the impact of it did not fully hit me until I toured the original IDC center to witness this marvelous cabling phenomenon for myself. Most Internet geeks when faced with this revelation will usually gasp and wonder how Johar pulled it off. I still wonder how he did it but as I spend more time with Johar at the IDC I realize that his open Indonesian attitude is at the heart of everything he does – including this amazing situation at IDC. Johar believes in the ultimate expression of freedom – the local Indonesian internet and Indonesian’s access to the global Internet is the most important part of this freedom.

Visiting Johar at the IDC allows one to experience Johar, his and his wife’s warm Indonesian hospitality and the open arms attitude of the IDC. I have been there enough times now that I know the drill. Introduce myself at the so-called front office to let Johar know I am in. Then I move to the meeting room, pour myself some tea and quickly log in to the free IDC wi-fi connection. No passwords needed – that would be very un-IDC. I usually catch up on my email and if I did smoke – I would have a cigarette while waiting for Johar. Smoking is also allowed in the meeting room since well – Johar smokes but more importantly preventing smoking would be so un-Indonesian.

A month back on one of my regular trips to the IDC Johar mentioned he had something to show Pontus and I. He told us it was a secret and he could not share it. Working for Yahoo! I am always burdened with secrets so this request was nothing new to me and keeping a secret usually means I am seeing something new that not many people have seen. And so it was to be.

Pontus and I went to the large IDC presentation room with Johar and his wife. Johar darkened the room, poured everyone some tea and proceeded to play us a movie from his laptop. I can’t really confess to understanding what I was witnessing at the time but mentions of seasons, self-expressions and upbeat music married to colorful, almost psychedelic, swaths of imaginative wall coverings had me intrigued if not slightly bewildered. Knowing Johar, this was probably his plan and within that I took comfort knowing that Pontus was probably just as confused as I was.

Lights back on and with Johar looking pleased with himself – I proceeded to ask the question that I am sure Johar anticipated, “What is it?”.

“That,” Johar replied – “Is the new IDC!”.

Then it hit me – we were seeing images of what the new IDC would be decorated as. Imagine if Tim Burton and Johnny Depp decorated a data center using the four seasons, color and a hint of well – freer times as inspiration. I was stunned but I got it – Johar wanted to not only technical create a freer Indonesian Internet but he was also wanted the actual data center to embody this as well.

Fast forward to today and I just had a tour of the new IDC while it is still under construction. Below is a photo I snapped while touring the new IDC. On the left is Johar Alam, in the middle is Juny Maimun (founder of Indowebster), and on the right is Jimmi Kembaren the newest Yahoo! employee in Indonesia. Juny is responsible, in his spare time, for building a site that is probably the biggest consumer of internal Indonesian bandwidth.


The new IDC is not complete and only two seasons have been built but I look forward to its completion and applaud Johar for his insistence on not only creating a brighter future for the Internet in Indonesia but for creating a brighter data center. Stay tuned for Yahoo’s! first event from the new IDC.


for more photos of the new IDC check out these sets on Flickr.

What’s up with America?

Before I start I will just continue with my plea to the guys over at This Week in Asia – please – have me back on. I think I will keep this up until they relent. 🙂

Moving on…

I had a week in Philippines and now another one in Indonesia – so much going on in these regions. Sure the ad spend is not there, the bandwidth is not the best but the growth is astonishing. In both countries I picked up a USB data dongle with pre-paid plans. Pretty much works everywhere you need to be – which means not being tethered to the office. This is where Thailand is so messed up but I won’t get into it.

So on one of my mid-morning blog rolls I came across this piece:

If empires are complex systems that sooner or later succumb to sudden and catastrophic malfunctions, what are the implications for the United States today? First, debating the stages of decline may be a waste of time — it is a precipitous and unexpected fall that should most concern policymakers and citizens. Second, most imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises. Alarm bells should therefore be ringing very loudly indeed as the United States contemplates a deficit for 2010 of more than $1.5 trillion — about 11% of GDP, the biggest since World War II.

It is heady stuff and maybe even a tad outlandish but probably not as crazy as it sounds. America is in trouble and when I glance at it from afar I wonder what will turn it around? Higher education is being priced out of reach of normal folks, taxes just keep going up, debt is out of control, infrastructure is aging and to top it all off we seem to be fighting wars we shouldn’t.

I made the choice close to 10 years ago to be in Asia – mostly because I could. For others that is not such an easy option but something excites me about being in an area of growth and new frontiers while hanging out with people possessing a sense of optimism. Last trip to the states when I cruised around SF the thing I noticed most was how people just felt a little down.

It is scary but what scares me the most is our government, repubs and dems – seems more focused on their own agendas then they are focusing on turning the ship around. I actually thought Obama had a chance but he now appears to be just like the rest of them.

I wonder what will change it all?