Singapore and Japan took the second and third spots in an annual index of the most attractive places to build data centres, with only the US ranked higher, according to global design and consultancy firm Arcadis.
Asia Pacific is well represented in the 2021 index, Netherlands-based Arcadis said in its report. Of the 13 Asian markets that made the list, nine are in the top half, with Taiwan and Hong Kong just missing the top 10 at 11th and 12th respectively.
The index is based on each market’s performance across eight key criteria: GDP per capita, dealing with construction permits, price of electricity, energy security, cybersecurity, domestic market size, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions and mean download speed.
“While each project will ultimately depend on a unique combination of factors, this index is meant to provide a starting point to help clients think through the decision criteria influencing the optimal location,” said Natalie Sauber, market intelligence lead at Arcadis UK.
Home of the Blades
The US has long been an attractive market for the construction of data centres, Arcadis said, citing a mature approach to cybersecurity, high mobile broadband penetration and fast download speeds in the world’s biggest economy.
The report also identified reliable electricity supply, links to Asia Pacific and Europe via submarine cable, and strong political ties to both regions as American strengths, with high prices for power posing the biggest challenge.
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Missing the top spot by a thin margin, Singapore led all markets in terms of low energy prices and high internet connectivity. With a well-educated workforce and stable government, the city-state continues to attract major investments from the technology industry, making it a natural co-location hub for serving markets across Southeast Asia and India, the report said.
Due to Singapore’s small size, land availability remains a key concern for investors, though Arcadis pointed to a government initiative to move urban infrastructure underground as a potential solution.
Third-place Japan earned a perfect score in mobile broadband penetration, underlining the need to manage the country’s high level of data consumption. An ageing population, high energy costs and disaster-prone geography loom as risks.
China rounded out the top 15 as a market “to keep an eye on”. Arcadis noted the country’s world-leading position in internal market size but issued demerits for energy security and red tape in obtaining construction permits.
Asia Welcomes Investment
Asia Pacific is undergoing significant data centre growth, driven by large-scale international cloud providers as they expand aggressively across the major hubs in the region, Arcadis said.
Asia’s visibility as a data centre magnet got a boost in December when Australian operator AirTrunk opened its first hyperscale cloud facilities in Singapore and Hong Kong on the same day.
Cushman & Wakefield last month released its own list of the top global cities for data centres in terms of site selection and investment. In that study, Singapore placed fifth among a top tier dominated by US markets, with Sydney ranked third overall for the best showing in Asia Pacific. (Australia as a whole ranked 14th in the Arcadis index.)