Rosatom invites Google and Facebook to store Russians’ data next to a nuclear power plant

The law, which requires companies to provide the locations of their databases in Russia, applies to all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data, from small companies to mega-corporations such as Google and Facebook. Source: Getty Images

The law, which requires companies to provide the locations of their databases in Russia, applies to all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data, from small companies to mega-corporations such as Google and Facebook. Source: Getty Images

A Russian nuclear corporation is building a data storage center near the Kalinin nuclear power plant, and is offering Western companies use of its capacity.

Google, Facebook, and countless other companies large and small are now required to store their Russian clients’ data within the country’s borders, according to a law that took effect Sept. 1.

The law, which also requires companies to provide the locations of their databases in Russia, applies to all websites that receive Russian clients’ personal data, from small companies offering hotel reservations or the purchase of tickets online, to mega-corporations such as Google and Facebook. All these companies will now have to build data centers in Russia to store the data of Russian users taking part in their services.

Google has several million physical servers residing in at least 14 data centers around the world and three major European data centers in Finland, Belgium and Ireland, according to various reports.

“Such centers are large arrays of servers, consuming huge amounts of electricity. Therefore, it is necessary to build them with a guaranteed secured supply, which will not be interrupted,” said Sergei Smirnov, an expert at the Energy Efficiency Union. “Otherwise, the company’s losses will be in the millions every day, and in the case of large corporations – hundreds of millions.”

Infographics: Personal data in Russia

In addition to electricity, such centers require access to huge amounts of water for cooling equipment.

The first data center is to be built next to a nuclear power plant

To address the problem of access to the necessary infrastructure in Russia, nuclear corporation Rosatom offered to provide Google and Facebook with a site for a data center near the Kalinin nuclear power plant in the Tver region, 225 miles from Moscow.

“With the location next to an energy source, in this case the station’s power units, companies reduce costs and are guaranteed to receive a source of energy,” said Sergei Novikov, Rosatom’s communications director. “Financial costs also decrease due to the shorter distance to the source. We have electricity, and we can launch everything even today or next month.”

Facebook and Google declined to comment on the proposal to RBTH.

But Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, said it will not be easy.

“Indeed, the question of connection to the electricity supply remains problematic for businesses in Russia,” he said.

Access to electricity, as Rosatom has offered, could tip the company’s decision, Kazaryan said. However, Google and Facebook would also need a stable wide communications links, Kazaryan said.

“In any case, a project of this magnitude will require additional costs for infrastructure development,” Kazaryan said. If in addition to offering the site, Rosatom would also cover part of these costs, it could make Google and Facebook more willing to build a data center there, Kazaryan said. But neither has announced plans for such construction, he said.

“They rent capacities, and they were not going to build their own data centers,” Kazaryan said. “In addition, access to electricity is not the determining criterion for such companies.”

The first phase of work on the data center at the Kalinin nuclear power plant has begun and will be ready to operate in the middle of 2016. The general construction contractor has been chosen, and the process to obtain permits for its erection has already started.

“The data center will be partly used for the needs of the concern Rosenergoatom due to the nature of our activities and trafficking of large amounts of data,” Smirnov said.

He added: “At the same time, Rosenergoatom, which operates all nuclear power plants in Russia, will take between five and 10 percent of the total capacity of the data center. All the rest will be offered to the market.”

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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