US search engine giant Google Wednesday opened its first data centres in Asia to cater for soaring demand, and said it would double its planned investment in the Taiwan facility to US$600 million.
Google inaugurated one of the new centres at an industrial park at Changhua in central Taiwan, and said a similar facility in Singapore was also up and running as of Wednesday.
The company last year announced plans to set up three data centres in Asia — in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
But it later scrapped its plan for Hong Kong, citing land acquisition problems.
Despite the change of heart regarding Hong Kong, Google has decided to commit more resources to Asia where the number of Internet users — mainly using smartphones and tablet computers — has surged much faster than in other continents.
“While we’ve been busy building, the growth in Asia’s Internet has been amazing,” Joe Kava, Google’s vice president of data centres, told guests at the inauguration.
“The number of Internet users in India doubled, from 100 million to 200 million. It took six years to achieve that milestone in the United States.
“Between July and September of this year alone, more than 600 million people in Asia landed on the mobile Internet for the first time. That’s almost two Canadas,” Kava said.
“And this growth probably won’t slow for some time, since the majority of people that have yet to come online also happen to live in Asia.”
During a rare media visit to Google’s facilities, Kava outlined how the complex is “efficient and environmentally friendly”.
For example, water is cooled at night when temperatures are lower and stored it in large insulated tanks before being used to cool servers during the day.
Kava at a press conference announced plans to double Google’s investment in the Taiwan centre to US$600 million, but declined to say how the extra spending would be used.
But Google officials said expansion of facilities at the Changhua centre, which covers 15 hectares (37 acres), was already under way.
The search engine giant has faced stiff competition in Asia, particularly in the China market.
Domestic search services including Baidu are household names to China’s 485 million-strong Internet population — the world’s largest.