Indosat taps Nvidia for AI muscle

Hands, touchin' hands... The Indosat and Nvidia teams celebrate their collaboration at MWC24 in Barcelona.

Hands, touchin' hands... The Indosat and Nvidia teams celebrate their collaboration at MWC24 in Barcelona.

  • Indonesian operator is the latest to collaborate with Nvidia
  • It will offer enterprise users access to Nvidia’s GPUs for AI workloads
  • The move is part of a broader initiative to develop Indonesia’s role in the global AI ecosystem
  • Indosat is also working with Nokia and Huawei as part of that effort

The line of telcos queueing up to work with AI chip giant Nvidia keeps on growing, with Indonesia’s Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison the latest to hook up with the vendor in an effort to position itself as a local and international mover and shaker in the AI world.

Indosat, the country’s second-largest operator with almost 100 million mobile customers, grew its annual revenues last year by 10% to 51.2tn Indonesian rupiahs ($3.3bn). It now has grand ambitions to evolve from being a traditional telco to becoming a techco, and embracing the potential of AI to aid Indonesia’s ‘digital transformation’ is a key part of that strategy, as CEO Vikram Sinha noted in the company’s recent earnings release. “With the adoption of the latest technology, supported by collaboration with various parties based on the spirit of mutual cooperation, we will continue our infinite journey in realising Indosat’s grand goal of connecting and empowering all Indonesian society by accelerating the nation’s digital transformation,” he wrote. 

One of those parties is Nvidia, while another is BDx Data Centers, with which Indosat is developing next-generation facilities following a recent transaction that resulted in the two companies becoming partners in BDx Indonesia and which, according to the partners, will help to “revolutionise Indonesia’s digital landscape”. 

That datacentre infrastructure development is key to what Indosat wants to achieve in AI and with Nvidia: As the company noted in its recent earnings announcement, it intends to play a “strategic role in initiating the growth of artificial intelligence (AI)-based datacentre infrastructure in Indonesia” and work with partners to “advance Indonesia in developing a world-class AI cloud.”

With the supporting datacentre infrastructure in development, Indosat is now ready to source the technology needed to manage AI workloads and develop the enterprise services that the technology and those facilities will enable. 

And that’s where Nvidia comes in. Indosat has signed up to be an Nvidia Cloud Provider Partner and, with the help of its IT services subsidiary Lintasarta, will deploy Nvidia graphics processing units (GPUs) in its datacentres and offer access to GPU processing to enterprise users on an as-a-service basis. “The GPU-as-a-service (Deka GPU) by Lintasarta provides customers access to the latest and most powerful artificial intelligence/machine learning capabilities specifically tailored for high-demand computing tasks, including infrastructure, platform, and bare metal services,” noted Indosat in this announcement

This service and the datacentre facilities will also play a key role in the development of a sovereign AI cloud architecture for Indonesia. “AI supercomputers are now critical infrastructure, and the collaboration will establish the foundation to empower Indonesia to become an AI nation… [Indosat] will leverage its datacentres to enable a sovereign AI platform for driving innovation across the ecosystem. Governments, enterprises, and startups will gain access to a state-of-the-art AI cloud platform, including infrastructure, tools, and software. This will catalyse innovation and increase productivity, optimising processes, and driving down operational efficiencies across industries,” stated Indosat. 

CEO Vikram noted: “This collaboration marks a pivotal moment in Indonesia’s journey towards becoming a global AI-powered digital nation… As a technology powerhouse, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison aspired to become one of the main drivers of democratising digitalisation in the nation. It tallies with our long-term commitment to connecting and empowering every Indonesian, and this collaboration with Nvidia will play a crucial role in helping achieve that vision.”

The relationship looks to be a good one for both parties. For Indosat and Indonesia, partnering with Nvidia is currently the quickest and easiest way to develop a national AI-enabled cloud infrastructure that can meet enterprise and government needs and to take a big step towards fulfilling those ambitious digital transformation goals. For Nvidia, it gives the company a foothold in what is the world’s fourth-largest country – with a population of almost 270 million, only China, India and the US are bigger. And if Indonesia is going to play a regional and even global role in the digital era, then building out the datacentre and connectivity infrastructure (high-speed mobile data networks) is table stakes – that’s something that India has also figured out in the past few years too. 

Of course, it’s not as simple as building some networks and datacentres and then hooking up with Nvidia – there are many more pieces to the puzzle. One of them is having federal support, which comes in the shape of Indonesia’s vision for 2045, which will be the country’s centenary year: One of the four pillars of that vision is “Human development and the mastery of science and technology” and that needs a combination of the infrastructure and tech along with the workforce capabilities.

With that in mind, Indosat has also teamed up with Nokia’s Bell Labs to help with educational and certification programmes for university students “to boost Indonesia’s digital talent competencies” and has struck a partnership with Huawei focused on “AI development, industry applications, ecosystem building, and talent cultivation.” 

Nvidia’s in the driving seat here, though, and will add its experience in Indonesia to its rapidly growing engagement with the telecom sector that now also extends to the development of next-generation distributed cloud and radio access network infrastructure – see AI-RAN Alliance launches at #MWC24.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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