Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – IBM (NYSE: IBM) is working with a Chinese partner to build the Great Wall equivalent of data centers in China.

Big Blue said Wednesday that it is building data centers as part of a 6.2 million square foot high-tech campus within a 30-minute drive of Beijing.

This truly could be a tech wonder of the world built at a cost of over $1.5 billion and with IBM getting $100 million or more in contracts, according to media reports.

The complex will lead to between 60,000 and 80,000 jobs, according to one report.

Remember the hullabaloo that surrounded IBM’s construction of a 100,000 square foot “cloud computing” data center in RTP that will add 10 or so new workers? And 40,000 of that space was unoccupied?

Can you imagine what the response and economic impact would have been if IBM and a partner picked any place in the good old US of A for this mammoth project?

Reports earlier this week focused on one data center at some 300,000 square feet that was touted as the largest in Asia. Turns out the IBM project is 20 times that size.

Big Blue is partnering with Range Technology Development, which is the owner, to build the huge complex that is expected to be finished by 2016. The companies are touting it as a “Cloud Computing Data Center.”

However, in the announcement, IBM pointed out that the campus “will be built to IBM specifications and international green building standards.”

“Data centers have always been a critical part of IBM’s heritage as we own or manage over 8 million square feet of data centers for our clients,” said IBM’s Steven Sams, who is vice president for site and facilities services.

“This new facility will leverage IBM’s data center innovation and resources to provide a cost-effective solution while providing the flexibility to meet the unpredictable changes in IT demand – whether it is from changes in IT technology or new business models such as cloud computing,” he added.

The complex will include multiple data centers at 160,000 square feet in size plus offices, living space, restaurants and much more.

“The data center offers the world-class infrastructure capabilities and advanced network based services to support the business growth of our clients,” said Madam Zhou Chaonan, the chairman of Range Technology. “This initiative plays a critical role in the economic development of China in light of the pressing demand for managed hosting in the areas of cloud computing and mobile devices.”

Sams told PC World that IBM’s data center business is booming in China – obviously, as this project shows. He also said China has already passed Japan for the No. 2 spot in IBM’s data business. No. 1, at least for now, remains the U.S.

For the IBM press announcement, read here.

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