Alibaba, IBM and More to Launch Hong Kong Data Centers

12 Jun 2014 by Technology

"Hong Kong, already a data center hub in the Asia-Pacific market, is on the verge of becoming home to facilities built by several prominent tech companies. E-commerce retailer Alibaba, which is looking to expand its cloud services as it mounts a serious challenge to Amazon's dominance, Web hosting site WordPress and tech titan IBM are among several organizations opening data centers in Hong Kong. These investments continue to further the march of globalization in the technology sphere, and will offer more options to businesses looking to expand their on-the-ground presence in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market.

A March 2014 survey by the IDC underscores Hong Kong's attractiveness and suitability for data center companies. The report named Hong Kong the top location in Asia Pacific for new facilities and outsourced data center services. Singapore and Taiwan placed second and third, respectively, on the survey, which used factors such as bandwidth availability, energy costs and opportunities for business growth in ranking the markets, among other economic, environmental and legal analyses.

Let's take a look at three companies - Alibaba, IBM and WordPress - that are driving growth in the Hong Kong data center market.

Alibaba Data Center: Going Global
Alibaba Group has risen in the American public consciousness since it announced the effort to gain an initial public offering in the U.S. last fall, although it is the global leader in e-commerce sales - in 2012, its sales bested those of Amazon and eBay combined. Although Alibaba's American IPO efforts began after talks with Hong Kong regulators broke down, the Hangzhou, China-based company still pursued a cloud data center presence in the country. Its cloud computing unit, Aliyun (also known as AliCloud), launched its first Hong Kong data center on May 12, TechCrunch contributor Catherine Shu reported.

The move was the company's first facility outside of China, and was erected in part due to the need for Chinese companies to place Webservers in closer proximity to their Hong Kong interests. Shu suggested that several factors, including less strict regulations and reduced costs, will lower businesses' barriers to entry and quickly fill the Aliyun facility with clients. Additionally, the sharp rise of mobile users and the relative paucity of mature cloud services infrastructure in China opens up opportunities for Aliyun to attract customers. It currently has three facilities in China.

IBM Taps Hong Kong for SoftLayer Expansion
On June 1, IBM announced that it opened a Hong Kong data center under its SoftLayer division, as part of an effort to build its global cloud computing and IT solutions. It is the first of 15 facilities that the company plans to construct in Asia and other locations around the world, to the tune of $1.2 billion.

""Our expansion into Hong Kong gives us a stronger Asian market presence as well as added proximity and access to our growing customer base in region,"" stated Lance Crosby, SoftLayer chief executive officer. ""This new data center gives the fast-growing, entrepreneurial businesses that Hong Kong is known for a local facility to tap into SoftLayer's complete portfolio of cloud services.""

Facility specs include a capacity of more than 15,000 servers, SoftLayer's proprietary network architecture and services - which connect with less than 40 milliseconds of latency - and multiple Tier-1 network carriers.

WordPress: From Blog Hosting Service to Data Center Company
A Hong Kong data center will be one of a pair of facilities {that?} WordPress intends to open in Asia before 2014 is over, according to InterAksyon. Noting that two-thirds of the audience and many of the top bloggers using the WordPress platform are located outside of the United States, co'‹-founder and newly minted CEO Matt Mullenweg said that it made sense for the company to have physical facilities in closer proximity to more of its user base.

""There are also lots of people in Asia and it's a big market and it goes back to the mission of WordPress which is to democratize publishing,"" Mullenweg said. ""We want to make it easy for anyone in the world, regardless of how much money they have or what country they are in, to have a beautiful, free and powerful website. It's part of our mission, it's inherent in our DNA to want to be in every place in the world.""

WordPress plans to open its first Asia data center in Singapore, with the Hong Kong facility to follow, according to the new source. The announcement followed a round of fundraising in May that netted the provider of the world's most popular blog service $160 million toward platform expansion."

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