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Global data center building booms

Three Googleplexes coming to Asia/Pacific

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The Great Recession didn't just throw cold water on server spending, it also slammed the brakes on data center buildouts. While server spending picked up in late 2009 and shipments recovered in 2011 to their pre-recession levels, it takes a bit longer to fund data center projects. But it looks like brick-and-mortar – and sometimes container-and–prefab module – construction for glass houses is starting to pick up.

Google, which doesn't quite have as much money or power as God – yet – is one of the largest data center operators in the world, and the company told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that it would be spending more than $200m to open three data centers to bring its search engines and myriad other services closer to Internet users (the raw material at Google) in that part of the world.

The Chocolate Factory told the Journal that it planned to plunk data centers in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, with the data centers being operational within a year or two of the beginning of construction. The data centers will be located on facilities that have a combined acreage of around 20 hectares, with the actual glass houses (or containerized data centers or whatever Google does) ultimately taking up only a fraction of that space. Google has just opened up a chillerless, air-cooled data center in Belgium and another one that is located in an old paper mill and cooled by seawater in Finland. Google has six separate data centers in the United States with varying vintages of server and data center designs, located in Oregon, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oklahoma – and never too far from cheap electricity and fat phone lines.

As El Reg has previously reported, after a three-year hiatus, the data center construction is coming back to its pre-recession levels, with construction worldwide expected to reach $45bn in 2011, by some estimates.

To get a sense of what was going on out there in the glass houses, containers, and prefabbed units that are used to give protection from weather and people to servers, storage, and networks, London-based Datacenter Dynamics did a survey of data center operators who collective manage 100,000 faciliites worldwide with an aggregate of 7.7 million racks of gear. The survey was done in June and July of this year, and according to a report based on the survey, data center operators say they expect to add 7 per cent more to their facility count (or around 7,000 new data centers), boost racks by 15 per cent (or around 1.2 million new racks), and draw 19 per cent more juice for running this gear (or around 37 gigawatts all told). Data center investment in 2011 is estimated at around $30bn globally based on this sample, and will grow to $35bn next year.

Ranking the investment in data centers is a bit tricky. In terms of incremental growth in capacity, Turkey is the big grower, with an increase of 60 per cent in data center capacity from 2011 to 2012, followed by Brazil (up 45 per cent), Columbia (up 40 per cent), Argentina (up 36 per cent), Russia (up 29 per cent), and China (up 28 per cent). The eastern US is expected to grow by only 13 per cent, the central US by 12 per cent, and the western US by 3 per cent, according to estimates made by Datacenter Dynamics based on its survey data. The United Kingdom ranked 21st, with 5 per cent growth.

Datacenter Dynamics survey

Source: Datacenter Dynamics, Industry Census 2011

But if you look at it by the amount of money that will be spent in 2012 based on what survey respondents told Datacenter Dynamics, then you get a completely different picture. The US rules, with $9.3bn in data center construction investment, followed by the UK, with $3.35bn, China ranked third, with $3.1bn in spending expected in 2012, followed by Germany, with $2.6bn, Australia with $2.45bn, and Brazil with $2.15bn. France, Italy, and Canada are close behind. ®

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