Recommendations for Hong Kong datacenter, and a sanity check for my geopolitical conclusions ?

Steve Gibbard scg at
Mon Jul 27 18:28:31 UTC 2009

My take on this would be that DNS especially, and the volume of mail that 
can be handled via a few 1 and 2u servers, are pretty easy to duplicate. 
As such, I suspect you're overthinking some of the risk management pieces. 
In any of the places you mentioned, you're more likely to have random 
accidental power or network connectivity outages than to be dislodged by a 
tsunami, hurricane, or military coup.  No matter where you go, if you 
design your service such that it can fail over to your network sites 
elsewhere in the world, you should be fine.

I ran a 30-location DNS network that included servers in some fairly 
unstable places for about four years.  Power outages in one location or 
another happened a couple times a week sometimes.  The ones we worried 
about were the ones where the equipment didn't successfully reboot itself 
afterward.  Hardware failures happened periodically -- again often enough 
that I don't have a clear count.  We had one location that we lost 
connectivity to due to a coup for maybe a week, once.

The real questions to be asking are where you'll get the best network 
connectivity and support.  For network connectivity, Hong Kong, Singapore, 
and Tokyo will all be decent choices.  Tokyo can be difficult if you don't 
have a Japanese speaker on staff.  Hong Kong and Singapore are both full 
of people who speak good English.  Last time I looked at it, transit 
connectivity was cheaper in Hong Kong.  Peering was easier in Hong Kong as 
well, since everybody was on the HKIX rather than being split between two 
exchanges (SOX and Equinix) as they were in Singapore.  But it's been a 
few years since I've dealt with stuff in either place, so the situation 
may have changed.

As for facilities, my usual shopping technique is to figure out who I want 
to connect to, figure out where they are, and then figure out which 
building has the best combination of price and remote hands support.  If 
there are any discernable differences in the level of back-up power they 
provide, you may want to take that into consideration too.  And then 
remember, your equipment will be far away.  Things will happen to it that 
you don't expect.  Some of those will be hard to fix from a distance. 
Make sure you're able to fail over to equipment in other places if you 
need to, because if you do this enough, you will lose a site somewhere 


On Fri, 24 Jul 2009, George Sanders wrote:

> I will be expanding a small network infrastructure service (read: DNS 
> and mail ... a few 1u and 2u servers) to Hong Kong next year.
> We don't have any particular customer base in Hong Kong - rather, we 
> have customers all over southeast asia and would like to serve them 
> better, as well as attract more SE Asia customers.
> I chose Hong Kong for the following reasons:
> - South Korea is alternately happy with / upset with Japan, and I don't 
> want to deal with that
> - Japan is is alternately happy with / upset with South Korea, and I 
> don't want to deal with that
> - Mainland China is out of the question, for obvious reasons
> - The smaller (Thailand, Vietnamese, Phillipines, etc.) countries all 
> have their own particular issues (recent coup in Thailand, etc.)
> So the choice came down to Hong Kong or Singapore, and I chose Hong Kong 
> because it seems easier to "just get things done" there.  I realize that 
> in the long term there is a greater risk of social paradigm shift in 
> Hong Kong because of mainland China, but in the short run it seems that 
> Hong Kong is more "functional" than Singapore.
> Any comments on the above thought process ?
> The obvious follow-up is, which datacenter ?
> I need a full service center that will give me rackspace and let me just 
> plug ethernet into their switch.  I am not interested in brokering my 
> own connectivity, nor am I interested in running my own routers.  I want 
> to pay one bill to one organization and get one cable.  The end.
> I think there are further considerations though ... I read details of 
> one very modern, very sexy datacenter housed in a skyscraper, but my 
> research showed me that this building has been built on land reclaimed 
> from the sea, and there is reasonable concern that the sand 
> underpinnings could liquify, to a degree, in a seismic event.  I'd also 
> like to be more than a few feet above sea level.  Honestly, as sexy as 
> it would be to be in a slick tower right on the bay in Central Hong 
> Kong, I would much rather find some nondescript, one story building, 
> miles from the coast and a few hundred feet above sea level.
> What recommendations might someone have ?
> Thank you very much for any comments or suggestions you may have.

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