Google feeds India and China from data centres next door
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Reuters: Google Inc opened its first two data centres in Asia on Wednesday to cater to the world’s fastest growing consumer technology markets, but the company has no plans to open one in China or India.
Choosing Taiwan and Singapore instead illustrates the problem that tech companies face in trying to feed data demand in the world’s two most populous countries: With regulations in flux in India and cyberspace censorship in China, Google had to look next door.
Mobile data traffic in emerging Asia-Pacific countries will likely rise 68% in 2014, well ahead of the global growth rate of 48% and the fastest growing region in the world, according to Analysys Mason, a research consultancy. Tech companies normally try to keep data centres as close to the customer base as possible because distance hurts speed.
“While we’ve been busy building, the growth in Asia’s Internet has been amazing. The number of Internet users in India doubled, from 100 million to 200 million. It took six years to achieve that milestone in the U.S.,” Google’s Vice President of Data Centres, Joe Kava, said in a statement.
“And this growth probably won’t slow for some time, since the majority of people that have yet to come online also happen to live in Asia,” he said.
Kava said the cost of building the centres was one consideration for locating in Taiwan, but things like data privacy policies, a highly trained workforce and network infrastructure were equally important.
“It’s no secret that the Taiwanese ecosystem for technology companies is outstanding,” he told reporters. “Being close to the technology companies will give us opportunity to further some of our partnerships” in Taiwan.
The importance of a country’s data policies was highlighted by the way Google opened its centres in Taiwan and Singapore and its decision to double spending in Taiwan to $600 million compared to $120 million in Singapore.
While Google brought out executives and media to celebrate its Taiwan opening on Wednesday, the Singapore launch received no such fanfare.
The company has expressed concern over a Singapore regulation announced in May that requires certain websites that regularly report on Singapore to be licensed, put up a S$50,000 performance bond and take down within 24 hours any content that authorities deemed objectionable.
Singaporean opinion news site Breakfast Network effectively shut down this week as a result, saying the “demand to register has created a wrinkle in our barely formed plans to become a sustainable and professional outfit”.
Google also announced it abandoned plans to build a third data centre in Hong Kong, citing primarily a lack of land.
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are all popular with global tech companies because they boast well-established privacy laws, reliable power and fibre broadband infrastructure, and skilled workforces, all essential to operating data centres.
Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp are also building data centres in Asia in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. But the real appeal is the giant number of Internet users in China and India.