Thu, Feb 16, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet calls data centers ‘critical infrastructure’

Staff Writer, with CNA

Data centers should be promoted as critical infrastructure for the information technology (IT) industry, but the abnormal competition among data center providers needs to be addressed, the Cabinet’s new technology expert said.

Simon Chang (張善政), former head of search engine giant Google Inc’s Asia-Pacific hardware operations, who is now a minister without portfolio, said in an interview on Tuesday that data centers integrate information systems and could help reduce carbon emissions.

“Data centers constitute a mass transportation system for the infrastructure of Taiwan’s IT industry,” Chang said. “It’s like a bus that can carry multiple passengers and generate less carbon emissions compared with individuals driving private cars.”

However, the promotion of data centers in Taiwan, which has encouraged intense competition among suppliers of the systems, has not drawn universal support from the IT industry, including suppliers like Acer Inc.

Acer chairman J.T. Wang (王振堂) said on Friday that he disapproved of the government’s policy to encourage businesses to set up such centers in Taiwan.

Wang criticized data centers as consuming a lot of electricity with high levels of carbon emissions and said they were not helpful in promoting the development of the local cloud-computing industry.

Chang said he fully understands why Wang, who was speaking on behalf of a single company, made such remarks.

“Indeed, Taiwan-made data centers do not command good prices when sold to global customers. Maybe they can break even or earn a little profit, but it’s unlikely they will make a lot of money,” Chang said.

Chang suggested that if the government introduced a system to track emissions generated by individual companies, the carbon emissions generated by data centers could be proportionally allocated to the centers’ customers rather than to their operators.

Chang, a Cornell and Stanford alumnus, was one of the main drivers of Google’s Asia-Pacific Data Center in Changhua County, a project with a US$100 million price tag.

An engineering expert, Chang worked for more than 10 years at the Acer e-Enabling Data Center before joining Google a year ago.

As he needed time to wrap up his work at Google, Chang said, he was only joining the new Cabinet yesterday.

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