[EN] Alibaba opens its first self-designed, self-built data centers
The company not only has plans to dominate the Chinese cloud market, opening numerous data centers there, but it also hopes to become a major global player. Aliyun has launched in Dubai, expanded in Singapore, looked at Ireland, and may come to India soon.
By Sebastian Moss
13 September 2016
Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba has opened two self-designed, self-built data centers in Hebei Province, the first time it did not team up with telecom operators in building data centers.
The data centers are located in Zhangbei County in Zhangjiakou and are expected to serve Alibaba customers in northern China.
“The two centers in Zhangbei are the first centers we have exclusively designed and built to support our business,” Jeff Zhang, CTO of Alibaba Group, told China Daily.
“Alibaba has become one of the world’s leading big data companies. We are fully committed to building our platform, at the heart of which are efficient data centers that are highly available and robust, of large enough scale to match our growth and make use of a reproducible IT infrastructure,”
The facilities will see their first big test on November 11, the biggest annual online shopping event in China after Alibaba successfully turned ‘Singles Day,’ a day celebrating being single, into a time for buying products. On last year’s ‘Singles Day’, Alibaba brought in 91.2bn yuan (at the time $14.3bn).
Alibaba’s move comes as it faces stiff competition in the North, with rival JD.com having secured significant market share.
The data centers will also provide cloud computing and big data services to small and medium-sized companies under cloud subsidiary Aliyun.
Aliyun cools new China data center using lake water
By Paul Mah
14 September 2015
Alibaba gets 90% free cooling in its eighth cloud data center
Aliyun, the cloud division of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has built a new data center beside Qiandao Lake in the Zhejiang Province in eastern China. Launched last week, the new data center brings Aliyun’s total to eight around the world.
The data center is cooled with water piped directly from the lake, which was created by a dam and is also known as thousand-island lake. Alibaba says lakewater cooling allows the data center to cool its servers for free 90 percent of the year, and cuts its cooling bill by around 80 percent. The data center is designed to achieve an annual average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio below 1.3, as well as a Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) ration below 0.2.
Thousand island lake
According to Xinhua News Agency, water at 17°C is piped up from 35m below the surface of the lake, where the temperature is stable and does not fluctuate. To prevent impact on the lake’s wildlife, the water is cooled before being returned there. For the present, this is done by passing the water through a 2.5km central canal across Qingxi New Town before before returning it, but Aliyun plans to eventually reuse the waste heat to warm nearby buildings.
The data center also uses renewable energy in the form of solar and hydroelectric power, as well as unspecified custom gear to squeeze more performance per square foot, according to a report in Fortune.
The data center is expected to save tens of millions of kilowatt hours of energy annually, compared to a comparable data center that relies on mechanical cooling, according to Wang Jian, chief technology officer of Alibaba.
The move by Aliyun is but one of many in recent years to counter the environmental costs resulting from the huge amount of electricity that modern data centers consume. By relying on green energy or novel methods of reducing electrical use, such moves also help Internet giants cut dramatically down on their power bills.
Aliyun is planning to open a series of data centers around the world as part of a push to launch its cloud platform around the world. Outside of China, it has data centers in Silicon Valley, United States and Singapore, while data centers in Dubai, Germany and Japan are slated to be opened soon.
Qiandao’s hydroelectric power is very conveniently located - the 573 sq km lake is man-made, having been created in 1959 to feed a hydroelectric dam.
It genuinely has more than 1000 large islands, as well as several thousand smaller ones.
The lake also contains an ancient submerged city - the Lion city dating from around 200 AD, which is now at a depth of about 30m.