In December 2013, Google announced the opening of two new data centers in Asia, located in Singapore and Taiwan. Plans to open a third data center in Hong Kong have been shelved, with the company citing scalability issues as the reason. By providing web hosting in Singapore and Taiwan for Google’s plethora of applications, these data centers will power the search giant’s push into Asia.
The Asian market offers immense new opportunities for the Internet giant, with the region being one of the fastest growing in terms of mobile Internet take-up. Google’ vice president in charge of data centers, Joe Kava, stated that in just 4 months in 2013, an incredible 60 million Asians logged on to the mobile Internet for the first time. That figure represents twice the entire population of Canada, and three times that of Australia. What is even more astonishing is that this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the entire population in the region.
There has also been a massive uptake in cloud computing in the region, with cloud technology appealing equally to business owners and consumers. The search giant believes it is important to have data centers close to where potential customers are located.
Google has built its Taiwanese data center from scratch in an industrial park at a coastal location in Changhua County. This is about three hours by road from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei. Environmental factors figured heavily in the design of the facility, and the development included the construction of several large wind turbines to provide energy for the data center.
Google has also taken an innovative approach to the problem of keeping servers cool using water. During the night, when temperatures are at their lowest, water is taken in to a thermal cooling system and stored in insulated tanks. The cooled water is then pumped through the facility to provide the cooling necessary to keep the servers functioning.
The Taiwanese facility is the largest of the two data centers, and it would appear as if this will be Google’s primary data center in the region. The company intends to expend around $600 million on the Taiwanese center, more than five times its budget for the Singapore center.
It would appear that Google does not anticipate that China will open its IT infrastructure to the world at large. Its population of more than one billion would obviously be a prime target for enterprises like Google, but the company’s decision to establish a data center in Taiwan is unlikely to please the Chinese authorities, who refuse to recognize Taiwan’s independent status. If there was any likelihood that the company would gain widespread access to the Chinese market, it is unlikely it would have established such a large facility in Taiwan.
While there has been some speculation from analysts that Google’s decision to open data centers in Asia may have been partly influenced by the US spying revelations of Edward Snowden, it is likely that the company will obtain significant financial benefits from its Asian bases. No details of Taiwanese or Singaporean incentive packages have been made public, but Google’s overseas development history shows that it is very good at seeking out low cost, low tax locations for data centers around the world that provide web hosting for its diverse range of online services.
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