Microsoft opening data centre... in Siberia?

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

Regular readers of the blog know that we here like our conspiracy theories, and suggestions thereof. In that vein, how's this for one: Microsoft is building a data centre in Siberia. Yes, that's right. Siberia. Why would Microsoft pick a place that's synonymous with isolation to build a data centre?

According to a report by Russian daily Kommersant, Microsoft is building a data centre to house 10,000 servers in Irkutsk (pop: 593,604), the largest city in Siberia. Microsoft Rus chief executive officer Birger Sten said the company chose the location because of its proximity to stable energy supplies. While he didn't specify how much the development will cost, Sten said a similar data centre in Dublin, Ireland (pop: 1.6 million) will cost about $500 million U.S.

The Kommersant story is sketchy on further details of the plan, but says unnamed market players have called it a "fantasy" and that there is no need for that kind of storage capability in the region.

There may be something to that. Given that the closest cities to Irkutsk are the sprawling techno-hubs of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia (pop: 1 million) and Wulumuqi in Northeastern China (pop: 2.6 million), you have to wonder what sort of demand there is in the region, and why Microsoft would look to plop so much money down there?

What could a technology company do with the kind of privacy provided by somewhere like Siberia? Let's allow our imaginations to run wild, shall we?