Rackspace Hosting, the world's largest information technology hosting company, has opened its Asian headquarters and data centre in Hong Kong with the aim of building a significant presence on the mainland in the next few years. 'We are the largest in the world and we want to be a large player in China in the next few years,' said Graham Weston, the chairman of the Texas-based firm. Rackspace has more than 500 customers in the Asia-Pacific and the data centre in Hong Kong is an important step in strengthening its presence in the region. Many of the firm's clients requested a facility in Asia to support their regional operations, said Mr Weston. 'As our customers expand to other regions, they want a partner that will grow with them,' said president and chief executive Lanham Napier. The company was also attracted by Hong Kong's advanced telecommunication infrastructure as well as skilled and service-oriented staff. Rackspace also intends to expand to Australia, Japan and South Korea. It expects to derive 20 to 30 per cent of its revenue from Asia in the next few years from 'a few per cent' last year. The company plans to invest more than US$20 million in the facilities. Its data centre in Fo Tan initially will cover 9,500 gross square feet and will be expandable to about 18,000 gross sq ft. Local providers of IT hosting services include iAdvantage, a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties, and PCCW, the local telecommunications operator. The rates charged by iAdvantage have increased more than 10 per cent in the past few years as demand from the financial sector soared. Mr Weston said language barriers and 'some political issues' were holding up Rackspace's plan for mainland expansion. The central government blocks websites that carry censored material - Google and the BBC's Chinese sites have encountered problems. That caused a lot of uncertainties for businesses that needed to operate websites or online applications, said an industry expert. 'If we could open a data centre in China today, we would,' said Mr Weston.