Google buys land to build three data centers in Asia

Google has acquired land in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore for its first proprietary data centers in Asia, where it faces tough competition

Google has acquired land in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore to build data centers in these three locations, it said Wednesday.

The data centers will be the "first Google proprietary data centers in Asia," and will be fully owned and operated by the company, said Taj Meadows, the company's policy communications manager for Asia Pacific.

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More people are coming online every day in Asia than in any other part of the world, so locating data centers there is an important next stage of Google's investment in the region, the company said Local data centers will help the company provide faster and more reliable access to Google's services, it added.

There is a large surge in Internet use in Asia, particularly for consumer applications, said Jun Fwu Chin, research manager for virtualization and data center at IDC Malaysia.

A number of new data centers are coming up in the region as multinational Internet and hosting companies set up data centers to serve local customers, and also to meet governments regulations in some countries that require data to be handled locally, Chin said.

The costs of setting up data centers in Asia also tend to be lower than in the U.S., he added.

Google already has six data centers in the U.S., with one each in Finland and Belgium, according to its website.

It already has 15 offices and thousands of employees across the Asia-Pacific region.

The company has acquired 2.45 hectares of land in Jurong West, Singapore, and another 15 hectares of land in Changhua County, Taiwan, to build the data centers. It has also acquired 2.7 hectares of land in Kowloon, Hong Kong, for a data center there.

Google expects to invest over $100 million in each of the facilities in Taiwan and Hong Kong, including the cost of land, construction and technical equipment. It did not specify the size of the investment in Singapore.

Google did not specify when construction would begin at these sites, as it is still working with its local partners and governments to finalize plans. Once construction begins, the facilities could be operational within one to two years, barring major delays, it said.

Google is however facing tough competition from local players in a number of local markets in Asia. In China, for example, it trails Baidu, the largest player, in Internet search.

In Taiwan, Yahoo, and Facebook are ahead of Google as the top sites in the country, according to Web traffic monitoring service Alexa. The rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and page views over the past month. In Hong Kong, Yahoo and Facebook are again ahead of Google, while it leads in Singapore.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's email address is john_ribeiro@idg.com.

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