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Google begins construction on Singapore data center

Web titan Google has officially started construction of its Singapore data center, which will cost US$120 million. Expected to be complete by early-2013, the 2.45-hectare facility is located in Jurong West.

Staffing requirements are still being finalized but recruitment for the leadership team that will helm the data center has begun and will continue as construction progresses, Google said Thursday when it officially broke ground on the site of the facility.

Once operational, the data center will be manned by a “small team” full-time staff and a number of contractors in various roles, including computer technicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, catering and security staff. “Building this first data center in Southeast Asia is an exciting step and an important investment in better serving our users across the region,” said Julian Persaud, head of Google Southeast Asia, in a statement.

“More new users are coming online every day in Asia than anywhere else in the world. They are looking for information and entertainment, new business opportunities and better ways to connect with friends and family, near and far,” Persaud said. “We’re building to provide our users here with the fastest and most reliable possible access to all our services so they can do just that.”

In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, Taj Meadows, Google’s Asia-Pacific manager of policy communications, said the timing to set up new data centers in the region is “pretty obvious”.

“Asia, in general, is the fastest-growing market for Internet users in the world. [Having] data centers here will ensure users have the fastest, most reliable access as possible,” Meadows said. “There’s been incredible growth in the Internet economy in Asia and we’re building to meet the demand and capacity of data-intensive services like cloud.”

Last week, Google also began construction work on its Hong Kong data center, a 2.7 hectare-site in Kowloon, in which it will invest US$300 million. Also expected to be operational by early-2013, the facility will be operated by some 25 full-time staff and a number of part- and full-time contractors.

The Internet giant first announced in September it had bought land to build its first data centers in Asia, namely, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Details for the Taiwan site have yet to be disclosed. These facilities will join Google’s existing network of eight data centers in the United States and Europe.

Tapping Asia’s booming Net economy

Japan-based Meadows, who was in town for the ground-breaking ceremony, did not identify the countries that would be primarily served by the Singapore data center, but he did reveal that the site would cater to users in Southeast Asia and the broader region of Asia-Pacific.

Rather than build the data centers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan on the same model, he noted that each facility will be adapted to the specific environmental nature of its location such as climate and humidity. All three sites, however, are expected to be among the most energy-efficient in Asia, Meadows said.

These “green” data centers will be both energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, as each element of the facility will be “custom designed and custom built” to ensure it is working at peak performance so it can run efficiently, he added.

Asked if Google was planning for more data centers in Asia, Meadows said there was “nothing to announce at this time”. However, he added that the company is constantly looking for where it may need to locate such facilities to best serve the needs of its users.

Google currently has 15 offices in the Asia-Pacific region, including one in Singapore which was officially opened in May 2007.

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