Google triples investment in HK data centre

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am


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Google has tripled to US$300 million its investment in a data centre in Hong Kong, one of three the company plans to establish in East Asia as part of an aggressive expansion programme in support of its growing business.

The world's biggest internet-search provider, which had earlier committed to spend more than US$100 million on the Hong Kong facility, yesterday broke ground at its 2.7-hectare site in Tseung Kwan O, with operations expected to start by early 2013. The two other centres will be built in Singapore and Taiwan.

'For Hong Kong, this is a key milestone in our development as a regional data-centre hub,' Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Elizabeth Tse Man-yee said. 'Google's data centres are known for their energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and data security, and data centres are essential for sustaining the development of the internet economy.'

The government has actively supported data-centre projects to step up the city's adoption of so-called cloud computing, which allows the delivery of software, online storage and other resources over the internet.

Simon Chang, head of Asia-Pacific hardware operations at Google, said operating the data centre in Hong Kong would lead to significantly faster access to all Google services by users in the region.

Google vice-president John Liu, who heads its operations in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said a combination of factors made Hong Kong an ideal data-centre location, including reliable energy infrastructure, a skilled workforce, a vibrant internet economy, cheap and ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband connections, a competitive telecoms sector and an environment that enabled 'trade, finance and new ideas to flourish online by allowing information to flow freely'.

The United States-based company announced in September that it planned to spend more than US$100 million to build a data centre on a six-hectare site in Taiwan. The cost of building the facility in Singapore has yet to be determined.

A data centre is a secure, temperature-controlled facility equipped to house large-capacity server computers and enterprise data-storage systems, which are maintained with multiple power sources and have high-bandwidth links to the internet.

The three new data centres planned by Google will be the first ones established by the company in Asia. It has six data centres in the US, with the average cost of each site US$600 million. It has also spent Euro250 million (HK$2.6 billion) on a facility in Belgium and Euro200 million on another in Finland.

Large data centres in Hong Kong tend to cluster around the districts of Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, Sha Tin, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay, San Po Kong, Quarry Bay, Chai Wan and Tseung Kwan O, according to the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the agency that sets local policies for information and communications technologies.

Tse said she gave 'a personal guarantee' to Liu and other senior Google executives that 'the government will go all-out' to help facilitate the smooth setting up of the company's Hong Kong data centre, which she expects to be the first to go online for Google in Asia.

Google will pay the expenses for the data centre, including the cost of land, construction and technical equipment. It will have up to 25 full-time staff once completed.