Google expanding operations in disused Hamina paper mill
Proximity to Russia, cool climate seen as advatages
When it was reported that President Sauli Niinistö would attend a press conference at the Google data centre in Hamina, very good news was expected.
The expectations did not prove to be unfounded: the search engine company said that it would invest EUR 150 in an expansion of the facility, less than a year after the centre, which was set up in a disused paper mill, started operations.
Google bought the mill from Stora Enso in the spring of 2009.
In the expansion, the second production hall of the old Summa paper mill will be taken into use. The alterations are expected to lead to the creation of 25 new jobs.
Niinistö appeared pleased with the new evidence that Finland is an attractive place to invest.
“Technology such as this represents the highest possible quality. If there are moves to set it up in Finland, it is a very big thing for us. Hopefully others will follow the example.”
Although Niinistö heaped praise on Google, one door remained closed to him: no outsiders, not even the President of Finland, are allowed to see the computers in the server hall.
“That is where the information is, and we want to protect it to as great a degree as possible”, said Ari Kurvi of Google Finland.
Converting the paper factory into a data centre cost EUR 200 million. The 18-month project employed more than 2,000 people. Currently the centre has about 90 employees.
The expansion will take a year and a half, giving work to up to 500 engineers and construction workers.
Some former paper mill employees now work for Google. One of these is Marko Immonen who worked at the Summa paper mill for 18 years as an electric automation mechanic. Now his title is that of a data centre technician.
He finds the new job challenging, and he hopes to keep working at it until he retires.
Director Dieter Kern of the data centre says that no further expansion is on the horizon, but that if more search engine capacity is needed, such a move would be considered.
Kern believes that the Hamina facility will attract other data technology companies to the area. He says that there are already signs of that happening.
The proximity of Russia was one reason that Hamina was an attractive location for the facility. Russia is a growing market area, and hopes are that Russian companies will expand their on-line advertising.
Kern says that Finland is an optimum location for offering online services to the Russians.
Finland’s cool climate offers a further advantage: the computers need cooling, which is easier if the outdoor temperature is not too high.
The decline in the Finnish paper industry has led to the closure of a number of paper mills, which are seen as suitable locations – not only because of large amounts of available space, but also because they are usually located near a lake, river, or seacoast, offering an ample supply of cooling water.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Google buys Stora Enso paper mill building in Hamina for use as data centre (13.2.2009)
Google is busy turning the old Summa paper mill into a data centre (14.9.2010)
Google gives journalists tour of former paper factory, future data centre (15.1.2010)
Google: Hamina Data Center