Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Google in Malaysia

Recently, there have been rumours that Google was looking for a place in Asia to set up their world's largest data centre. Then, two days ago, TheStar reported our PM as saying that Google was planning to set up shop in Malaysia. When I first heard this, I was hesitant to believe this, for several reasons. That's why I didn't blog about it immediately.

All reports indicate that we're in direct competition with India and Vietnam for this Google project. Skilled labour isn't much of an issue as skilled IT workers aren't exactly essential for data centre maintenance. So, regardless of what people may think of our local graduates, they are not a factor. Our PM mentioned that the largest base of Google users in SEA are from Malaysia. But I don't think that this is even a consideration.

Personally, I believe that the decision will ultimately boil down to energy costs. Data centres are notorious guzzlers of electricity. In this respect, we are cheaper than Vietnam. I can't find the numbers for India, but I'm guessing that we are probably cheaper, as we are an O&G producer. So, assuming that the price of electricity does not go up significantly, there is a possibility that we are in serious contention for the project.

But then, there has not been any form of confirmation from Google on this matter. I feel that our PM might have jumped the gun and announced this prematurely. Unless of course he made them some promises behind closed doors to seal the deal, this might just be some feel-good news that we sorely needed before the GE.

Is Google going to benefit the local tech industry? Like every other technopreneur, I pondered on this matter a little. I can see how the initial inflow of $600 million in capital expenditure for laying the physical infrastructure would be useful to the local construction industry. But beyond that, I don't really see any direct benefits. Google wouldn't make a dent on our local unemployment statistics. Neither are they likely to engage local technical partners. However, having a giant like Google, put it's stamp on the MSC will help rejuvenate the ailing project. This is quite possibly the only benefit.

UPDATE@+2: There's now reports that 18 countries are in competition and that Google may be eyeing more than 1 data centre.

1 comment:

Gabriel Wu said...

cool! :)