Can China build Green Data Centers?

I am having conversations with an entrepreneur in China who is working on the Green Data Center idea in China.  All the big data center operators have been to China to look for data center sites.  I would expect most cannot find the right site for their data center operations for a variety of reasons.  Building data centers will be difficult with a short term approach if you only want to build one building.  What makes more sense is to take small incremental steps with continuous build out in China and other areas in Asia Pacific.

I've been to Beijing,Shanghai, and Hong Kong over a dozen times when I was working at Microsoft and Apple.  As well as Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore.  I saw many different sides of the country working with hardware suppliers, internal development groups, and software entrepreneurs.

Google's recent pullout of China can be interpreted in many ways and there are some interesting assumptions I can make based on some key people who are coincidentally now working in Google Asia who I used to work with.  These ideas are much too complicated and subtle to try and write in a blog entry.

So, back to the problem of can China build Green Data Centers?  Ideally China would have a few big US companies building data centers in China that Chinese engineers can learn from.  But as far as I know no one has done this, even though a lot of have evaluated sites.  Which makes things difficult, but creates an opportunity.  China doesn't have data center people who have been doing the same thing for the last 20 years who want to build data centers the same way they did in the past.

China can build smaller data centers, using geo-redundancy as part of the design.  Power may not exist, but China is building power generation faster than anyone else.  So, it isn't what power is available.  Tell me what power will be available.  See this Economist article.

Electricity and development in China

Lights and action

China is parlaying its hunger for power into yet more economic clout

Apr 29th 2010 | HONG KONG | From The Economist print edition

AFTER a brief blip caused by the global economic slowdown, the electricity business in China is back to normal: in other words, it is buzzing. On April 26th Huaneng Power, the country’s biggest utility, began work on a nuclear reactor on the island of Hainan. The week before, the firm had announced that its power output had risen by 40% during the first quarter. The day before that, Datang International Power, the second-largest utility, had said its output was up by 33%. Surges of this magnitude, unimaginable in most countries, are commonplace in China.

China’s endless power-plant construction boom has accounted for 80% of the world’s new generating capacity in recent years and will continue to do so for many years to come, says Edwin Chen of Credit Suisse, an investment bank. Capacity added this year alone will exceed the installed total of Brazil, Italy and Britain, and come close to that of Germany and France. By 2012 China should produce more power annually than America, the current leader.

The US gov't hasn't treated the Data Center industry as a strategic industry to provide special treatment.  China will.

Much of the data centers are built and designed to maximize profits for the vendors.  Data Centers are the most profitable construction.  The silos in Real Estate, Facilities, Data Center Ops, IT Ops, Finance, and SW are ripe for over specification for features that have little business value in the holistic view, but look right from a limited perspective.  The top data center people know this which is why they have broken down the silos and integrated the functionality within one manager.  Look to Google's Urs Hoelzle as the epitome of owning the data center stack, including SW infrastructure.

It is a bit of irony if China's data center strategy targeted Urs and his thinking as the customer, asking what he wants in data center infrastructure.  Google wants cheap, reliable, cleaner power.  Multiple Fiber paths.  And, government support for the data center build out.  In the US we hear about the tax incentives, and this is proof the local community wants the data center construction.

An example of the opportunity is to be work with the SinoHydro on a China Data Center strategy.  Here a perspective you'll enjoy reading on China's HydroElectric build out.

China: Not the Rogue Dam Builder We Feared It would Be?

Hydropwer accounts for the overwhelming share of China’s alternative energy mix, but is perhaps also the one of the more controversial alternative energy options due to the ecological and social impacts of dam construction.   This guest post by Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers Network, examines China’s growing pains in its increasing role as an exporter of hydropower technology and expertise.

A few years ago, Chinese dam builders and financiers appeared on the global hydropower market with a bang. China Exim Bank and companies such as Sinohydro started to take on large, destructive projects in countries like Burma and Sudan, which had before been shunned by the international community. Their emergence threatened to roll back progress regarding human rights and the environment which civil society had achieved over many years. However, new evidence suggests that Chinese dam builders and financiers are trying to become good corporate citizens rather than rogue players on the global market. Here is a progress report.

Could you partner with China to build data centers around the world where dams are being built?  The power generation is one part, and Fiber is next.  Government support fits in easily as governments were involved in the Hydro construction.

One of Google's crown jewels are its data center designs.  Is part of the reason why Google pulled out of China are the issues they ran into if they built a data center in China?