Earlier this year IBM, in conjunction with China-based Range Technology, announced plans to build the world’s largest data center. Construction on what will be a 6.2-million-square-foot facility is under way and should be completed in 2016. The data center, located in the city of Langfang, is designed to deliver cloud computing services to the Hebei Province, a region bordering the northern China metropolises of Tianjin and Beijing.

The facility will be nearly the size of the 6.5-million-square-foot Pentagon, one of the world’s largest office buildings. IBM Service Business Executive Glen Yuan, in an e-mail interview, provided further detail about this enormous project.  

What’s the purpose of the cloud computing facility?

To build a state-of-the-art, enterprise-class cloud computing data center to support the development of Hebei Province as a high-end information technology and services-based economy. The collaboration will help companies across China with enterprisewide strategic outsourcing services, business continuity and disaster recovery services, in addition to advanced capabilities in cloud computing storage and mobile-device management.

How large is the facility anticipated to be?

The actual facility will be quite large. It will include offices, apartments and a hotel, in addition to data center facilities. Phase one of construction includes three data centers with 32,000 square meters of raised floor space each, and phase two will include an additional four data centers for a total of seven. Space also will be made for an additional three data centers based upon need.

Can you provide an overview of the Chinese technology landscape that makes a project of this scale possible?

State-owned enterprises have plans to consolidate IT facilities and infrastructure. Additionally the top four banks in China also have very large-scale, high-tier data centers or are planning them. Some businesses own and operate data centers that measure 1.5 million square meters. Therefore, planning a data center of this size is not out of the question or completely unheard of, but it’s rather to fill a void.

What sort of capabilities will this facility provide?

While still early in construction — and therefore early to discuss specific capabilities — Range will rely on IBM’s deep expertise in technology, training, solutions and data center design services for building the center. IBM and Range Technology will work to provide hosting and operation-related services, as Range will support independent software vendors and other enterprises for software product development. Overall, the platform will support Langfang’s development and hosting for smarter transportation, e-government services, administration systems, food and drug safety services, supervision solutions and health-care projects, including electronic medical records. The first stage is to build a Tier IV data center.

Who will use the facility?

Local governments, foreign enterprises and service providers among others. IBM is working with Range Technology to create the resources for local governments and businesses to use the facility.

Chad Vander Veen  |  Associate Editor