Is Facebook Really Planning a Taiwan Data Center?
Entrance to a hot aisle in a data hall at Facebook’s Altoona, Iowa, data center. (Photo: @2014 Jacob Sharp Photography)

Is Facebook Really Planning a Taiwan Data Center?

For web giants, data center site selection around the world never ends

It’s no secret that the market for internet services in Asia is growing fast, so it’s not surprising that Facebook may be looking for a good place to build a data center in the region.

“May be” is the important bit here. Like other mega-data center operators – companies like Microsoft, Google, or Amazon – whose customer base spans the globe, Facebook is always looking for a good place to build its next data center. Because it can sometimes take several years to get a location approved and secured for one of these massive projects, data center site selection in multiple places around the world is an ongoing affair for Facebook and its web-scale peers, and the fact that Facebook is evaluating a site says little about its actual construction plans.

A county official in Taiwan recently told Reuters that Facebook was evaluating a potential site for a data center in the country, which would be the social network’s first data center in Asia Pacific. A local newspaper in Bozeman, Montana, reported this week that local officials there have met with Google about potential a data center site, and that Facebook has also shown interest.

These reports mean the companies may be looking at potential sites to do as much groundwork as possible in advance, in case they make the decision to expand in one of the locations, at which point they need to get the data center up and running quickly. They also simply show how eager local officials are to attract these mega construction projects, which often cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Facebook may be looking at one or more sites in Taiwan -- it will eventually need a data center in Asia -- but it may also be looking at sites in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, or India.

Rumors that Facebook was interested in a data center site in Taiwan surfaced as far back as 2011. The company promptly denied the reports. As of today, Facebook does not have a data center in Asia, company spokesman Michael Kirkland said.

If Facebook announces a new data center location any time soon, it will be a second data center in Europe, he said. It is currently looking at multiple sites in Ireland and elsewhere in Western Europe and is close to making a decision. The company launched its first European data center, in Luleå, Sweden, in 2013.

The rest of its data centers are all in the US: Prineville, Oregon, Forest City, North Carolina, and Altoona, Iowa. It also leases wholesale data center space in Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia.

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