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Russia as datacenter hub? Not so fast

Russia apparently could become a datacenter hub. It has hydroelectric power, cold temperatures to keep all those servers cool and a booming economy with lots of engineering talent.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Russia apparently could become a datacenter hub. It has hydroelectric power, cold temperatures to keep all those servers cool and a booming economy with lots of engineering talent. But there are enough moving parts to require a little more homework on that Russia as datacenter capital theory.

The Green Data Center blog riffs off an Economist story connecting the datacenters with Russia's hydroelectric capacity. RusHydro, which owns most of Russia's hydroelectric plants, has 25 gigawatts of capacity. Why wouldn't you put up a bunch of data centers in Russia? Om Malik connects a few more dots and notes that datacenters will be clustered near the power production. It only stands to reason that Russia would be a big player.

So what's the hold-up? Conducting business in Russia isn't a simple affair. And before Microsoft, Google or Yahoo eye datacenters in Siberia they may want to call up BP or Exxon for a few tips on doing business in Russia. If you track the oil industry at all you know that private-state partnerships in Russia have become mostly state. Could a datacenter be held hostage just as easily? Would the head of your IT operations in Russia go in hiding like the CEO of the BP Russia joint venture TNK just did?

Sure, these oil spats--the BP-Russia skirmish is a regular soap opera--have more dollars at stake than some datacenter.

But when BP's press release archive has headlines like...

I have to think twice about plopping a datacenter in Russia. I'm arguably painting Russia with a broad business brush here. But you can't just ignore these items. Bottom line: There are lessons to be learned before you farm out your data infrastructure and cuddle up to some hydroelectric plant in Russia.

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