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Believe the hype over Asia data centres

7 December 2018

The hyperscale data centre market in Asia Pacific is set for impressive growth, fuelled by rapidly increasing data usage across the region.

There is no set definition of a hyperscale data centre, but the key is their size and capacity. The hyperscale model works with hundreds of individual servers which are made to operate together via a high-speed network. Their power capacity could exceed 100MW, compared with 2-10MW for conventional data centres, and they are substantially larger.

Only 24 companies operate hyperscale data centres and most are US-based, although China’s Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are also included in this category.

Cisco’s Global Cloud Index predicts 25% annual growth in data centre traffic to 2021 and also predicts that hyperscale data centres, which account for 39% of traffic today, will account for 55% by 2021.

There were 338 hyperscale data centres worldwide in 2016, 30% in Asia. By 2021, the number will grow to 628, with 39% being in Asia, Cisco predicts. This means Asia will take over from North America as the biggest region for such facilities– inevitable given the continent’s population and rapidly increasing use of data.

Due to a law which require China data to be stored in domestically-located and operated data centres, it is very much its own market; elsewhere in Asia developed markets are considerably ahead of emerging markets as locations for hyperscale data centres, as they offer the physical and legal infrastructure operators require.

For example, Facebook announced in September that it would construct a 150MW hyperscale data centre in Singapore. This 11-storey, 1.8m sq ft facility will serve users across South East Asia and India. Microsoft and Google have large data centres on the island and Mapletree Investments is currently constructing a $42m, 240,000 sq ft data centre, reportedly on behalf of a single tenant: Amazon Web Services.

Other markets in the region with potential to exploit the growth of hyperscale data centres are Australia and Japan, with Sydney and Tokyo the prime city markets. Hong Kong is also a major data centre location, but lack of land is set to be a constraining factor in its future growth.

Singapore, which also suffers land constraints, is investigating alternatives to conventional above ground data centres. These could include high-rise or underground facilities.