Autodesk opens Buzzsaw hosting centre in Hong Kong

Autodesk has just announced the launch of a new Autodesk Buzzsaw data centre in Hong Kong, to support customers of its construction collaboration solution across the Asia Pacific region, having spent three years on the selection process (see news release).

The process was facilitated by inward investment agency InvestHK whose Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion, Mr Simon Galpin said:

“As the world continues to globalise and companies increasingly work across borders, they need secure storage and easy access to their data worldwide …. Hong Kong has … an international pro-business environment, including a sound legal system, that protects data and intellectual property rights, and a stable political environment. Hong Kong also has world-class telecommunications, information technology and electric power infrastructure. And Hong Kong is the gateway to China, soon to be the world’s third largest economy.”

Location, location, location

From the earliest days of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) right through to current debates about Cloud Computing, attitudes to the location of data centres have varied widely. In the construction collaboration technology market, for example, some customers have been content to let their technology provider host their data, perhaps simply assuming that it must be hosted in the same country or at least nearby. This isn’t always the case, of course. For example, until it switched to a BT-hosted facility in mainland Britain, UK provider 4Projects used to host its customers’ data in a facility run by a sister company in north America. And [my employer] BIW Technologies supported its customers as they extended their operations across geographical borders (into mainland Europe, for example) from a main data centre based in southern England, before eventually establishing a second data centre operation in Dubai to support its customers’ projects in the Middle East region.

Other construction collaboration technology customers have been adamant that their data must be hosted within the same country – an attitude reflected, perhaps, in Mr Galpin’s comments about legal systems to protect data and intellectual property rights. As the BBC technology columnist Bill Thompson writes, the whole notion of Cloud Computing does raise questions about data protection and the location of data centres:

“… the Canadian government has a policy of not allowing public sector IT projects to use US-based hosting services because of concerns over data protection. Under the US Patriot Act the FBI and other agencies can demand to see content stored on any computer, even if it being hosted on behalf of another sovereign state. …

This is not just a US issue, of course…. It applies just as much to the UK, where the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act will allow the police or secret services to demand access to databases and servers. And other countries may lack even the thin veneer of democratic oversight that the USA and UK offer to the surveillance activities of their intelligence agencies.”


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1 comment

  1. Paul,
    I agree. Legal issues around data centre location are important, especially for those managing corporate risk. But for their colleagues that actually use online collaboration, the impact is primarily on speed of access. Few major clients will accept long-distance hosting indefinitely, but rolling out the infrastructure to support them is not cheap. No doubt BIW considered carefully the set up and ongoing costs of using a Middle East data centre. With seven instances of our own, Aconex, too, is aware that putting platforms close to users represents a big commitment to current and future clients. This may become an issue that segments vendors into two groups: a small one that has international capabilities, and the rest.
    Incidentally, the three years that Autodesk spent establishing the data centre must be a record. The rest of us have helped clients build whole city blocks in less time! Are we meant to understand that they have built, equipped and are running their own facility? Surely their customers would feel more confident if they had outsourced this critical function to a specialist provider? Or is that what they have done, somehow taking three years in the process?

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