back to article Malaysia flirts with Google over world's biggest data center

Always enjoyable and ambiguous "media reports" coming out of Malaysia have Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bragging that Google plans to build the world's largest data center in his country. That's great news, right? Uh, well sort of. Malaysia can expect to see upwards of $600m in hardware, software and construction …

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Don't make me laugh

Google will only set itself up for a big fall if they do. With horrid broadband service essentially monopolised by one company, TMnet, Google can do better elsewhere. Websites hosted on TMnet's datacenter are often down for the stupidest of reasons; they only offer 1.5mbps connection to the normal consumer and have lukewarm tech support. International connectivity is one huge problem. How can Google possibly expect such a non-committal tel co to fully co-operate with them?

Save yourself the pain, Google. Try Singapore.

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Ashlee touches something very important here

I think the digital divide is going to widen. 5 in 6 people around the world have no access. I don't think the factories of today are filled with people, even regular admins in regular shops will lose their jobs gradually to data centers around the world. To stay in the information age, people will have to fight for knowledge and expertise. If you can't be a rocket scientist, get back to farming. There is no middle for you. And also as that previous comment says there are can be several issues around the providers. I've been involved in a project in Africa. The internet connection is killing and horrendous.

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Anonymous Coward

That's a big ass DC...

How big is a DC staffed by 400 people going to be? In terms of hosts - individual, physical boxen, how many are you talking? How many of that is support/dev staff?

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all basket put eggs your dont one in

rearrange to make a familiar phrase

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@ greatwestern

You have identified a problem.

You don't suppose that the people behind Google might have identified it as something else?

One thing Google knows is the power of the web. With enough munie a company could establish themselves well and truly if they got in at the start of business.

And it would cost a lot less to make Malaysia a top notch nation than it would to do something similar in Britain. They wouldn't have to deal with an impenetrable level of corruption for one thing.

I've read stories about the Google people inventing their own server hardware. It sounds to me it would only take a few million miles of relatively cheap glass wire to connect it all.

It won't have to go into a sewerage system too, neither. Good luck to 'em. I'd like to have seen Tory BLiar inviting them in to sort out BT instead of giving Microsoft carte blanch to sort out our IT all those years ago.

What a stupid tosser.

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Global warming?

Why should the world's biggest data centre be built in the tropics? To double the electricity bill and speed up global warming by doubling the required power consumption for the air-con in this hot climate?

Stupid idea. Just to save a few quid on staff wages.

What's wrong with Finland, Sweden, Iceland or Canada?

Cheers

Gerhard

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@@Greatwestern

GreatWestern's got it right about the infrastructure here, it's pretty appalling. Plus there's a huge (politically-rooted) dispute between TM here, and SingTel down south that means to connect to Singapore, we have to go via Hong Kong. That's going to take some huge sweeteners to get around with everyone saving face.

"They wouldn't have to deal with an impenetrable level of corruption for one thing."

You're kidding, right?

Dave, KL

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Re: Gerhard Zweimueller

Good point; however Google like all corporations don't have any responsibilities beyond looking after shareholders. I think the problem is broader than just the environmental issues as profound as they may be; in Malaysia power per kilowatt hour might be cheaper, staff are almost certainly cheaper and planning laws may be more relaxed to attract a high profile company. There may also be grants to attract companies in. We do the same thing in the UK and it's probably better known as carpetbagging. At the end of the day Google is just looking for somewhere cheap to host their servers, when you're cloud-computing on this scale the specifics of location and country are academic. It seems such a waste we use all this ingenuity to spew out adverts and let people search for porn.

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@Tarry Singh

Digital divide? I think that the many without food, clean water, sewerage and electricity would perhaps have a different set of priorities.

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@Dave Harris

Nope.

In such a country as Malaysia you would know who to go to and what to go with. Everyone would make a profit. Big toothy smiles all around.

A few thousand more miles and you could have direct connections to anywhere on the South China sea. What's stopping them?

To do anything like that in Britain would require upsetting everyone and their dogs. Which is probably why no-one has attempted it. I did hear of someone trying once, Cable and Wireless. Are they still in business?

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@gerhard zweimueller

The Worlds Largest Data Center is going to be built there because current service is crap. By putting a big datacenter right there, they get to improve their services for the surrounding regions- which is a large % of the world's population

Also, because the main ISP over there sucks, they may even branch out into being an ISP to help mitigate the costs of laying extra fiber to get a decent connection.

So, it makes a great deal of sense. And in a properly insulated building it'd not be THAT much of an increase in air-con energy requirements. Even if it was, remember that a rise from 20 degreesC to 40 degrees C is only like an 8% increase in temperature (relative to absolute zero), not the 100 degrees that a cursory glance would suggest. So pumping the extra heat out wouldn't take that much extra energy.

If it's physically massive as well, they could also coat it with solar panels to help generate extra power to cover the extra losses.

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Typical Malaysian premature press release

@greatwestern

Yep, having lived in Malaysia for 16 years, this sounds like a typical one-upmanship type of press release from the Malaysian administration. For historical reasons (a legacy of the good old British Empire) Malaysia has always been trying to outdo her slightly more prosperous neighbour of Singapore.

The main problem with Malaysia is the lack of continuity. How many times have I experienced some wonderful implementation of new technology only to see it go to ruin for lack of maintenance and a newer non-compatible system installed rendering the systems of the past couple of years totally useless. In my opinion, the building of a brand new city nearby to replace the existing capital of Kuala Lumpur is the ultimate discontinuity. No doubt Google will find itself replaced as flavour of the month in a couple of years' time if this ever gets off the ground...

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Customs

How do google intend to get software installed on their servers? Customs scan every CD and DVD brought into the country, and charge around thirty ringghit for the service. That's a lot of googledollars to go funding Malaysia's decency program.

As far the climate - don't worry. Malaysia has some pretty high mountains where it's relatively cool. That'll keep your two yoghurts chilled, Gerhard.

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Linux

Sligthly off topic, perhaps

Long ago Google used to tell how many computers they where running.

Went something like 2000,3000,5000 .. 13000.

Then there was a long silence.

About the time for their IPO Washington Post or some similar newpaper wrote about 100.000 computers or processors.

Anybody who knows the numbers today.

For shure it must be the largest collection of Linux machines in the world.

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@ Lars

Wasn't that sort of attitude the thing that lead to the split between Microsoft and IBM?

IBM were looking at hardware and M$ were seeing software. 2000 computers these days would knock spots of 100 000 in those, whatever those days were.

It ain't what you say it's the way that you say it.

That's what gets results.

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Carbon searchprint

Looks like I'll need to watch my search usage, or buy some offsets to save the planet.

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RE: John - Customs

they could send it electronically.. through the " I . N . T . E . R . N . E . T "....

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@@@Greatwestern

They already have a Singapore data center. Why do you think I can get directions from my uncle's house to Orchard Road (their shopping district) via Google Maps but can't even get directions from my house in Klang to my workplace in Puchong?

> How do google intend to get software installed on their servers? Customs scan

> every CD and DVD brought into the country, and charge around thirty ringghit

> for the service. That's a lot of googledollars to go funding Malaysia's decency

> program.

Do they? I import CDs and DVDs off Amazon all the time and encountered no such problems. The packages arrived sealed and unopened (although they may open the envelope for checking the CD label).

Sure, Malaysia has sh!tty internet connection, but Google coming in could actually up be doing us Malaysians a favor by means of giving TMNut (local geek-speak for TMNet stemming from their unreliable and expensive service) hell by forcing the nut to provide better connection. And for one at least expose TMNut for the liars they are (those imbeciles are calling 1MBPS "Broadband". How? Last I heard the broadband consortium is rising the specs of "Broadband" to 5MBPS minimum).

Plus, I want to work for Google. I tried applying for a post in their Singapore data center (yes, they already have one there) but they wouldn't consider, and I don't want to be stuck in a country where it takes 4 hours to download one stupid Maple Story game client, and the only IT jobs available are all Windows oriented :( I want to play with the Penguins :(

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Anonymous Coward

World's Biggest ...

"If you can't be a rocket scientist, get back to farming. There is no middle for you."

In a 1975 Computerworld interview with the VP of MIS at an L.A. aerospace firm, the interviewee labeled all supporting techs 'plumbers' - necessary to accomplish a task, a project, but eminently replaceable when it comes to running a business.

Nothing has changed. How does one spell 'redundant' and 'outsource'?

If you can't be a rocket scientist, get back to farming, make some bucks, invest, earn, skip the middle, and give the rocket scientists their marching orders, as in: "Fix the toilet."

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@Mountford D et al

They might even build it here. The UMNO Government will give them plenty of direct and indirect subsidies, on the (obviously unstated) condition that goodly chunks of the cash float back into the pockets of certain well-connected VVIPs. It'll get a mention in the next Five-Year Plan (oops, "Malaysia Plan"), lots of hoopla, and, being Malaysia, will take them eight years to build the DC. (Anybody taken a look at Plaza Rakyat in KL lately?)

It will eventually come online and meet the contractually-stated minimum initial levels of service. Then GOOG will learn the One Unshakeable Truth of doing high-tech business in Malaysia: there are perhaps as many as eight people in the country competent to manage operations and maintenance; six of those are expats, and the other two lived in the UK for 20 years. Everything else gets run into the ground.

True story: A friend of mine visited me in KL who had just retired from working for the Seattle Monorail. He was interested in seeing the then brand- new (running since 2003; this was in early 2006) system. Afterwards, he made the comment that in his opinion (as in mine), the monorail built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, still in operation, though much shorter and simpler, was far better maintained. He was particularly appalled by the dual-rail to single-rail switch at each end - an obvious single point of failure that would shut the entire system down if/when it failed.

Given the difficulties and political/racial complexities of foreign companies doing business in Malaysia, the near-complete lack of competent infrastructure, the difficulties in finding and retaining qualified local people as well as keeping any expats happy over the long term, I think it's going to be a real challenge for UMNO to get Google in and have them willingly stay. I second AC@Gerhard's sentiment that TMNet - the Government-linked monopoly ISP "sucks" (with a 3 femtopascal pressure), and it serves UMNO and Government interests to keep it that way. Given that the last newspaper that was regularly critical of the Government has just been taken over by a very Government-friendly tycoon, I wouldn't look for "citizens' improved access to information from/about the world" to be in the real priorities that actually move forward anytime this millennium.

"Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang" (Excellence, Glory and Distinction) indeed. No longer any mention of "Temberan" (Democracy) to be heard.

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