søndag 16. mai 2021

Deep inside China’s Big Tech data caves

A remote, underdeveloped agrarian province in southwestern China is now a testing ground for Beijing’s new tech and data regulatory regime. A state-owned entity has transformed paddy fields and karst caves into state-of-the-art data centers where racks of servers are leased to tech giants ranging from Alibaba to Apple. The massive amounts of data from Chinese citizens as they chat, browse and shop online are kept and crunched in the mountain reaches in Guizhou.

The ethnically mixed southwestern province, still among China’s least-developed regions and a big recipient of poverty alleviation funds, ticks all the right boxes to host such data centers, despite lagging behind better-off provinces in internet and smartphone penetration. Tech firms looking for secure locations for their vital storage and backup systems say Guizhou’s cool climate, clean air and abundance of hydropower appeal. Guizhou’s combination of natural advantages can help lower operating costs and energy use since storage devices on an industrial scale can use as much electricity as a small city.