The Korea Herald


[From the Scene] Kakao unveils first data center

Recalling ‘painful’ server shutdown in 2022, CEO vows all-out efforts for safety, stability

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : June 12, 2024 - 12:02

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Kakao's first data center, Kakao Data Center Ansan, in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province (Kakao) Kakao's first data center, Kakao Data Center Ansan, in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province (Kakao)

Korean IT giant Kakao, having suffered from its worst-ever server shutdown in October 2022, unveiled its first in-house data center in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, to local media Tuesday. As part of Kakao's efforts to keep users' daily lives safe, this data center is the first one of its kind to maximize stability.

Located on a 47,378-square-meter site, about 2.6 times the size of a soccer field, Kakao Data Center Ansan is situated in Hanyang University’s ERICA campus in the industrial city, some 29 kilometers south of Seoul.

Kakao invested 460 billion won ($334 million) in constructing the Ansan data center, exceeding its initial budget of 400 billion won. The data center was completed in September last year and became operational in January.

The facility can accommodate 120,000 server units and store 6 exabytes of data. So far, about 10,000 server units are occupied. The company added it plans to build another data center soon to boost storage capacity.

The Ansan center has been constructed with safeguards against natural disasters, equipped with earthquake-resistant designs and multi-tiered fire response systems. Aligning with sustainable protocols, the facility also integrates renewable energy mechanisms and efficient waste management cycles.

Chung Shin-a, appointed the first female CEO at the company in March, in her first meeting with reporters Tuesday said, “We have built our own data center with a focus on safety and stability. As Kakao’s services connect people’s daily lives in real-time, this data center aims to be secure and resilient, even in the face of disasters and emergencies.”

She recalled the fire that broke out at its SK C&C data center in Pangyo in 2022 which resulted in a major service disruption spanning five days and called it a “painful experience like trauma.” Based on the experience, Kakao bolstered the fire response system at the Ansan center. It looks to apply for a patent for the special system as well, the CEO explained.

Ko Woo-chan, performance leader at the infrastructure technology division highlighted three keywords of the Ansan site: stability, eco-friendliness and community.

The center is designed to operate nonstop by duplexing all critical power, communications, and air conditioning equipment for emergency cases.

When touring the center, it felt warmer than other sites due to the temperature being set to 23-27 Celsius using solar heat. Breaking away from the closed image of data centers, Kakao plans to open a partial site to the public for touring purposes for the first time as well.

Chung introduced the IT giant’s new goal -- With technology that understands people, we bring the future we need closer -- and four values of focusing on the essence of problems, staying ahead with technology, creating a safe digital environment and pursuing social value, and hoped data center can realize these to contribute to a better society.

Ko further hinted at a new in-house artificial intelligence data center underway. Although a specific time and destination have not yet been decided, it looks to open one as early as 2027, he said. “We’re promoting the construction of a new data center to effectively respond to the AI ​​environment. … It will likely add more safety and eco-friendly features to it,” he added.

While its competitor Naver has joined forces with Samsung Electronics to develop next-generation semiconductor solutions for advanced AI systems, Kakao showed its will for AI chip collaboration as well. Kakao recently established an AI-only organization, dubbed Kanana, that oversees AI development.