Now that WeChat has more than 100 million overseas subscribers, Tencent, China’s leading web content provider, faces a new challenge: improving the experience of its customers outside of China. Steep rises in content consumption — largely driven by the increasing use of mobile devices to access services and information — represent a significant opportunity for content companies like WeChat to go global. To achieve this, Tencent has made positive steps in boosting its investment in data centers and networking outside of China.

To improve its user experience in the rest of Asia, Tencent recently announced that it will colocate one data center in Hong Kong and has chosen Equinix to operate it. This is already the second node that Tencent has built outside of mainland China; the first was implemented in Canada to serve North American users.

As an Internet company that operates its own large data centers in mainland China, Tencent has deep experience in data center construction and management and has leveraged this experience to develop best practices and key criteria for data center provider selection. These include:

  • Networking and interconnection options. As Tencent intends to rapidly expand its business into more countries, it needs carrier-neutral data center providers to offer the necessary connectivity options. For its Hong Kong implementation, Tencent used Equinix to optimize transit routes to achieve lower latency and better connect users inside and outside of mainland China; the data center provider can access multiple networks and peer with members of the Equinix Internet Exchange.
  • Capacity availability. Because it has a rapidly growing user base, Tencent must assess the ability of its data center providers to expand their capacity on demand. Tencent selected Equinix because the provider could demonstrate that its Hong Kong footprint was well planned and that it could meet Tencent’s changing capacity needs.
  • Solid BC/DR capabilities. Tencent wants to improve its disaster recovery capabilities between its various nodes — so any new data center provider needs to demonstrate solid business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities and experience in the region. When evaluating providers for its Hong Kong operations, Tencent was delighted to see that Equinix had experience with banking and finance use cases — for which uptime is critical — in the region.

To effectively use infrastructure outsourcing outside China, Tencent must manage its own colocated data center. The company is continuing its geographic expansion; building up a global footprint will bring increased complexity and overall management difficulties. With all these in mind, Tencent should continue to consider data center providers with solid managed services in each region of its overseas operations.