Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bhutan - Early next year start for first data centre

Thimphu Tech Park Bhutan’s first commercial data centre should be operational by the first quarter of next year at the IT Park inaugurated this week.

The data centre, which will be run by a joint venture company between a local IT firm, New Edge Technology and the UK firm, Burland Technology Solutions, is hoping to eventually service clients as far as the US, UK and Europe.

Burland CEO, Richard A Vass, said that the first stage would be to establish the centre, Data Centre Services (DCS), in Bhutan and service local clients. The second stage would be to look to regional businesses, like in India and Bangladesh.

“We’ve such good fibre connectivity in this country, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t go to the US, the UK and European countries to host data centres here,” he said.

Vass explained that a data centre is a “very carefully engineered and controlled environment, where IT services, such as hosting websites or software, can be housed.”

He pointed out that IT services require very stable environments, in terms of power provision, temperature control and physical security.

“When IT services aren’t hosted in stable environments, it can lead to poor reliability in the provision of services,” he said.

He said, at Thimphu Tech Park, this stable environment was assured, by having two main utility power supplies from different sources, ensuring power supply redundancy.

To further assure power supply reliability, UPS or battery power supply is also provided to handle any breaks or dips in the supply. This will be further backed by diesel generators.

“So for as long as the servers are concerned, they’ll never see any difference in their supply,” he said.

To maintain cooling of equipment, Vass said that an “innovative, efficient and low cost cooling system” is being adopted.

Explaining a need for constant supply into the data centre, he said, cooling was required, since the heat generated by computer chips, as they work, could destroy the chip itself.

Vass pointed out that an attractive feature for international IT firms would be Bhutan’s temperate climate. He said that Bhutan’s cooler air could be used for “free cooling” of its equipment, which would lead to even lower cost of operations.

He said low cost and hydro energy, which is considered green energy, would be reasons that could attract international companies to set up data centres in Bhutan.

New Edge Technology CEO, Tashi Tsering, said the idea is to establish a world-class data centre.

He said that DCS is aiming at commencing operations by the first quarter of next year, but admitted it was a “difficult, complicated, and expensive” affair to set up a data centre.

He pointed out that the main challenge is in developing the internal capacity or Bhutanese manpower to run and manage a data centre.

“Right now, we don’t have this capacity, so we have to get people from outside,” he said, adding, a challenge remained in learning from outside, and that technology transfer took place till manpower here was ready.

He said another challenge was that many companies have heard of Bhutan, but were cautious and waiting for other companies to take the first step. “They want to see proof of concept before they come in and get their feet wet,” he said.

Tashi Tsering said he expected DCS to employ about 12 people at full operations. He said that, initially, DCS would have to rely more on its experienced partner for expertise, while its bhutanese staff underwent training in India.

DCS did not reveal how much it has invested, or how much rent it will pay to the park. Tashi Tsering said that a data centre required “quite a bit of investment.”

By Gyalsten K Dorji

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