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Bangladesh may build world’s fifth-biggest data centre in earthquake zone

Wed 1 Oct 2014

The Bangladesh Ministry of Information is considering the establishment of a Tier 4 data centre in Kaliakair, in the Gazipur region, an ambitious build which would constitute the fifth largest data centre in the world, if completed. And if it survives – the site mooted for the project is prone to earthquakes.

Earthquake activity in the environs is discouraging, with one nearby earthquake seven months ago in Ranir Bazar (3.8), and no less than ten within the same tectonic zone over the last three years, the largest of which measured 4.5 on the Richter scale.

According to committee chief Ashraful Islam, the exact site has not been decided yet, but Islam said that Kaliakair was ahead of alternative sites due to lower initial costs.

He also promised that appropriate precautions would be taken against earthquakes. According to the Dhaka Tribune, ICT Division sources posit Jessore ICT Park as a superior alternative, with minimal risk of flood or earthquakes. A senior official at ICT said: “Tier 4 is not an amateur project; a multimillion dollar project like this can be established only to attract foreign business organisations and even other governments to deposit their data here and feel safe. But if they found it is established on an earthquake prone zone, it will not be profitable for the Bangladesh government to establish it.”

The new facility will cost Tk1,000 crore (£4.9mn), and is intended at least partly for storage of government information. Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Division State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak has reportedly visited the site several times in the company of senior executives from the ZTE Corporation, who will be the project’s suppliers, and who deny that the site’s location is finalised.

The new data centre will fall under the aegis of a governmental partnership between Bangladesh and China, though no financial details have been released.

Japan’s recent history of catastrophic earthquakes has driven a great deal of its former data centre infrastructure to outsourcing to more stable locations, but there is also a global sub-industry dedicated to earthquake-proofing data centres, such as the ISO-Base Base Isolation Technology from Worksafe, which is based in Valencia, CA, and presumably has emerged from local need. The range of products is very specific and mostly designed to insulate server racks, peripheral equipment and environs from the most damaging effects of tremors. Products range from the high end seismic base-isolation platform to the rather more endearing Monitor Lasso.


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