Japan’s NTT Communications sees HK$4 billion data centre plan as shot in arm for Hong Kong’s status as global financial hub

‘We believe that makes us the biggest data centre services provider in Hong Kong,’ company says.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 7:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 7:47pm

NTT Communications, the information technology services arm of telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, expects to help reinforce Hong Kong’s role as a global financial hub with the completion of its HK$4-billion data centre expansion in the city’s Tseung Kwan O industrial estate.

Tetsuya Shoji, the president and chief executive at NTT Communications, said at the launch on Wednesday that the company’s data centre complex in that area was built “to address the acute demand of enterprises’ digital transformation” as well as “cope with the rampant growth of mobility, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data” developments.

In this digital age, when everything goes online, the role of data centres has never been more important.
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun

Tokyo-based NTT Communications, which also operates data centres in Kwai Chung and Tai Po, started its expansion programme in Tseung Kwan O in 2011 and opened the first phase of its operations there in 2013.

With the second phase completed, the company’s data centre complex represents the largest and most advanced such facility established by parent telecommunications network operator NTT outside of Japan.

WATCH: NTT Communications Hong Kong Financial Data Centre Tower 2

It is also the ninth data centre opened this year by NTT Communications, which has a network of more than 140 such facilities around the world.

Data centres are secure, temperature-controlled facilities that house large-capacity servers and data-storage systems, with multiple power sources and high-bandwidth internet connections.

Enterprises, both big and small, are using data centre services providers to host or manage the computing infrastructure for their online businesses, such as e-commerce and high-frequency trading.

“In this digital age, when everything goes online, the role of data centres has never been more important,” said Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, chairman of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp (HKSTP).

Law added: “Not only are [data centres] the essential infrastructure supporting our pillar industries such as trading and finance, but also the catalyst for the development of new industries and applications that add impetus to our economy.”

Established in 2001, the HKSTP is a statutory body that oversees the Science Park on the Tolo Harbour waterfront, the six-storey InnoCentre premium office space in Kowloon Tong, and the industrial estates in Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Yuen Long.

Taylor Man, the executive vice-president of data centre and cloud services at NTT Communications regional subsidiary NTT Com Asia, said that adding the new phase-two facility in Tseung Kwan O will boost the company’s infrastructure capacity in the city to a total of more than 10,000 racks.

“There are no official estimates, but we believe that makes us the biggest data centre services provider in Hong Kong,” Man said.

In industry parlance, a data centre rack is the physical and electronic framework designed to house a server, networking devices, cables and other computing equipment.

“We see very strong demand from the market,” Man said, noting that phase one was already up to full capacity in terms of customers.

NTT’s Tseung Kwan O complex primarily caters to large enterprises in the financial services, information technology, retail and internet industries.

Although land is a scarce resource in Hong Kong, we have made every effort in the past few years to make available suitable land for data centre development
Nicholas Yang Wei-shung

The complex also houses the Hong Kong cable-landing station for the NTT-led submarine cable system, the Asia Submarine-cable Express. This 7,200-kilometre system connects Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong and mainland China.

“Data centres are part of the key infrastructure for a knowledge-based economy, playing a pivotal role in the development of our information and communications technology sector,” said Nicholas Yang Wei-shung, Hong Kong’s secretary for innovation and technology.

“Although land is a scarce resource in Hong Kong, we have made every effort in the past few years to make available suitable land for data centre development, from greenfield sites to conversion of existing industrial buildings.”

Yang said the government will continue to explore different means to make available more suitable land for data centre use in the city, including the development of caverns.

According to market researcher and consultancy Frost & Sullivan, large data centres in Asia tend to be located in the most expensive cities - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney.

The financial services, trading and logistics, information technology, telecommunications, and content development and media industries account for more than 84 per cent of the total demand for data centre space in Hong Kong, it said.