HK GCIO: HK is a prime location for regional data centers
By Carol Ko 13-Jul-2012
At the "Hong Kong -- Prime location for data centres" seminar held today at the Tamar Central Government Offices, the Hong Kong Office of the Government Chief Information Officer told some 150 attendees that it is part of the government's overall ICT strategy to develop Hong Kong as a prime location for data centers and cloud services in the Asia Pacific region.
In his opening keynote, Daniel Lai the Hong Kong government said data center and cloud computing markets are growing at an unprecedented fast pace. Using the five-letter word "C.L.O.U.D." -- which represents continuity and connectivity, land, open, unfailing support and door to China -- Lai outlined the strategic advantages of Hong Kong as a prime mega data center location in the region, and the recently implemented government measures to facilitate data center development in the city.
High continuity and connectivity
In two consecutive years, Hong Kong was ranked in Cushman & Wakefield's "Data center risk index" 2011 and 2012 reports as the safest place for setting up data centers in Asia Pacific -- ahead of South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, China, Indonesia and India.
In terms of connectivity, Hong Kong's internet connection speed is averaged at 45.9 Mbps. The city has six submarine cable landing stations connected to seven regional and trans-Pacific submarine cable systems, and is connected with an overland cable network of the three telecoms operators in China.
By 2014, CLP will build a new power substation at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE), said Kenneth Cheng, assistant GCIO (e-government service delivery) OGCIO. TKOIE is currently home to about 10 data centers, including HSBC, NTT Com, China Mobile, HKCOLO.NET, Pacnet Global I & II, Google, Towngas, Digital Realty & Savvis and Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing.
Addressing land shortage
"Outside the industrial estates, acquiring greenfield sites large enough for high-tier data centers is challenging."
-- Daniel Lai, Hong Kong government CIO
"[T]he constraint we face in data center development is insufficient greenfield sites to meet surging demands," said Lai. Since 2001, the government has allocated 19 hectares of land for data center use in the three industrial estates (Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, Tai Po Industrial Estate and Yuen Long Industrial Estate), of which over 10 hectares of land were set aside in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE) in the last two years. "Outside the industrial estates, acquiring greenfield sites large enough for high-tier data centers is challenging," Lai said.
There are currently two greenfield sites open for application for data center use. One is a one-hectare land in the TKOIE for exclusive use of data centers to be made available for open bidding in 2013. The other is a 2.44-hectare site in Yuen Long Industrial Estate that is now open for application till August 10, 2012.
Besides setting aside greenfield sites, the Hong Kong government is now actively promoting the conversion of industrial buildings to data center use, with the support of two recently implemented measures, in addition to the existing measure of redeveloping acquired industrial buildings into high-tier data center.
Regarding these newly implemented measures, the Data Centre Facilitation Unit has so far received about 10 enquiries on general information and application procedures, and one application on converting an industrial building into data center use, according to Jason Pun, chief systems manager under OGCIO's digital economy facilitation unit.
"No censorship on online content"
"Hong Kong imposes no censorship on online content."
-- Daniel Lai, Hong Kong government CIO
In Hong Kong, personal data privacy is governed under the Hong Kong Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, which protects the collection, use and transfer of personal data. "Hong Kong imposes no censorship on online content, which is also one of the essential terms of service agreement in delivering commercial data center services," Lai said.
Lai added that there are currently more than 180 Internet service providers licensed to provide broadband services in Hong Kong. This ensures "plenty of competition and choices for data center operators," Lai said.
In May, OGCIO published a list of 40 public cloud services providers for reference by all government bureau and departments. This online public cloud services catalog will form part of the government cloud platform that is expected to facilitate the procurement of public cloud services.
Hong Kong-Guangdong cloud expert committee
In May, OGCIO established the "Expert Group on Cloud Computing Services and Standards" to involve the local IT community in the development of the best practices and guidelines on security, service level and interoperability.
Next week, OGCIO will together with the Guangdong government establish the "Hong Kong/Guangdong Expert Committee on Cloud Computing Services and Standards" to jointly develop cloud computing standards and best practices.