Facebook has chosen Singapore as the site of its first billion-dollar data center in Asia. The region is home to the tech giant’s fastest growing market and hosts 40 percent of Facebook’s 2.23 billion monthly active users.
“We selected Singapore for a number of reasons, including robust infrastructure and access to fiber, a talented local workforce, and a great set of community partners, including the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Jurong Town Corporation, both of which have helped us move this project forward,” Facebook said in a Facebook post announcing the project.
The translucent-clad, plant-covered facility will be used to enhance the speed and reliability for Facebook’s apps, sites and services to users in the region and globally, according to the company.
Robust Infrastructure and Enforceable Contracts
In addition to citing the Southeast Asian nation’s robust infrastructure, access to high speed fiber optic broadband and talented local workforce, the social media giant noted that “Singapore has also established policies that foster a business-friendly environment, including measures that support the enforcement of contracts and increase the ease of construction permitting,” as reasons for choosing to build the S$1.4 billion ($1 billion) project in the city. Other countries like China and India demand user data be stored domestically, a requirement that Singapore does not share.
Slated to be operational in 2022, the 11-story, 170,000 square metre structure will be located in the industrial district of Jurong East, neighboring Google’s existing two data centers in Jurong West. The search engine behemoth announced last month of its plan for a third facility “down the road”, bringing its total investment in the projects to $850 million.
Global commercial real estate agency Cushman & Wakefield ranked Singapore as the most robust market out of 10 Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China, in terms of business operations for data centers in its Data Center Risk Index last October. In Singapore’s favor, was its “strong network infrastructure, diverse connectivity to major APAC markets, its pro-business environment and political stability.”
The study also predicted that the overall APAC region would surpass Europe’s data center market by 2021 based on an exponential growth of data and need for cloud and colocation services all across the continent.
“Mobile data usage, in particular, has increased in Asia Pacific in recent years. In 2016 alone, the region reached 3,109,117 terabytes in mobile data consumption per month. And it is expected to reach 22,845,908 per month in 2021,” it read.
Building an Eco-Friendly Server Shed
Facebook’s $1 billion-investment, 170,000 square meter facility is touted as eco-friendly as its other 14 data centers around the world and will be powered by “100 percent renewable energy.”
The company highlighted in a statement that liquid cooling technology will be utilized to minimize water and power consumption. The building’s light-weight façade will be made out of perforated material to facilitate better airflow and cope with the city-state’s steamy temperature not to mention the sultry server rooms.
Facebook’s vice president of Infrastructure Data Centers Thomas Furlong promised that, during the construction phase, the project will generate “thousands” of jobs while “hundreds” of workers will be required to maintain the facility once it’s up and running.
Singapore Netizens Remain Unconvinced
Singapore’s netizens were quick to take to Facebook and comment that the jobs would most likely go to the foreigners, specifically Indians and Filipinos, instead of Singaporeans. One wrote, “Data center means IT professionals, IT professionals equal FT (foreign talents) —what does that mean? Jobs for Singaporeans? Only cleaners and security maybe”. Another joked that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, with whom the company chief, Mark Zuckerberg, had a falling out years ago and who now lives in Singapore will be unlikely to attend the opening.
Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister, Chan Chun Sing, nonetheless hailed the Facebook investment as a “significant milestone” for Singapore, indicative of Singapore’s ability to “transcend” its historic constraint.