Yandex To Build Data Center in Finland

Russian search giant Yandex will build a data center in Finland, joining rival Google as the latest Internet giant to build in the Scandinavian country.

Yandex representatives confirmed the reports, which were published by Helsingin Sanomat and other Scandinavian news services. The news is significant, for even though Yandex is hardly a player within the United States search market, it now ranks as the fourth-largest search engine worldwide; according to comScore numbers shared privately, it processed 4.8 billion or 2.8 percent of all searches, passing Microsoft. It also serves 50.3 million visitors monthly across all of its properties. (Google processes 114.7 billion searches, or 65 percent.)

According to the papers, Yandex bought eight acres of land in the Kapuli Business Park for 1.5 million euro, just 45 minutes away from the Helsinki airport by road. Construction will begin in August, a Yandex spokesman said. Yandex did not say how large the data center will be, but the company told the local business development office that it will employ at least 50 people, adding to its current total of about 4,000. The council of the Mäntsälä region in which the business park is located will consider the proposal in early April.

Yandex reportedly bought the land based upon its location and an available supply of power, two selling points on a flyer (PDF) that the business park uses to promote its services. A nearby rail link will help with transportation, while the business park can draw a guaranteed 1 MW to 50 MW of electrical power from three electricity stations through either of two power lines connected to the local utility, Mäntsälä Power. Several high-speed fiber-optic connections link to FICIX, the main Finnish Internet hub. Finally, the park also has provisions to dispose of excess heat to Mäntsälä Power (beyond merely dumping it into the outside air).

That has been the typical appeal of datacenters built in the frozen north. Google operates a data center in Hamina, Finland as well as the slightly warmer environs of Dublin, Ireland. Facebook, which helped bring natural cooling into the spotlight, plans to use the naturally chilled Arctic air of Lulea, Sweden to cool its facility, scheduled to become operational in 2014.

Recently, a 451 Research report found that power costs would make the United States a more cost-effective region to build data centers than Europe. But the report also found that Norway might be a good alternative: electricity prices were just $0.002 kWh more than in the United States in 2011. If power prices are comparable in Finland, that may have helped sway Yandex’s decision.

The other question: Finland’s neighbor is, of course, Russia. Was there some concern about operating a data center within Russian borders that prompted Yandex to turn to Finland? Yandex representatives said no.

“Our choice of Finland and Mäntsälä is based on several factors: total cost of data center’s ownership, including cost of energy, climate conditions (which impact on servers’ cooling cost), location in terms of logistics (only 60 km from Helsinki),” the Yandex spokesman wrote in an email. “We also got good commercial offer and support from Mäntsälä city authorities.

“The new data center to be opened in Mäntsälä will be used to serve users in regions of Yandex’s current presence,” the spokesman added. Yandex data center locations currently include sites in Russia, The Netherlands and in the U.S., he added.


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