Wednesday, October 04, 2006

香港數據中心競爭力不足

惠普(HP)近日做了一個表面上看似不合乎邏輯,但想深一層又很合理的決定,就是將惠普目前在全世界各國的數據中心(Data Center)搬回美國本土,海外的數據中心陸續取消。預期分布全球的85個數據中心最終將整合至6個較大型的數據中心,分布於美國3個城市。

很多人的第一個反應,必然是想到美國的成本不是較香港及新加坡為貴嗎?為甚麼惠普會反其道而行,將數據中心搬回美國本土呢?但事實上,從事電子商務的朋友向禤中怡講述,美國的數據中心營運成本真的是便宜過在香港操作。禤中怡這位朋友本來打算在香港創業,不過,香港的數據中心要求客戶先預繳12個月費用,可算是「未見官先打八十大板」,之後,客戶每個月還需支付數百元,上下載流量全部設有限制,特別是往海外的流量,一旦使用量超過上限,更要支付一筆罰款。當然所設的限制也不算太合理,而結果就是很容易已用盡容量限額。還有一件事,就是香港很多數據中心,幫客戶「砌」伺服器的水準參差,經常發生問題。

為甚麼美國數據中心成本可以平過香港、新加坡,因為美國地價夠平,電費收費水平怎也及不上如港燈(006)現時收費般,永遠有大條道理維持在高水平。目前的電腦,單是CPU(中央處理器)的耗電量都已經需要100W,一個較為像樣的伺服器,可能每個小時的耗電量達500W至600W,香港現時的電費水平,營運數據中心怎不對客戶提出苛刻的條款,及「貴到飛起」的價格。所以如香港政府再不想想辦法,處理電費水平及加強競爭,不止數據中心,很多耗電量高的行業難在香港生存。

惠普事件,對香港而言可作為反思的機會,我們的能源及土地資源政策,是不是能跟得上世界潮流呢?勞工密集已不是我們的出路,過去的香港思維是走向高增值產業,但如果能源及土地資源政策不能配合的話,我們就是擁有一流人才,也未必能吸引高增值產業來港發展,屆時優勢又從何而來呢?

賭業風雲變幻
澳門賭業競爭進入直路之際,全球博彩業又掀起兩單翻天覆地的變化,其中首推美國國會批准將銀行和信用卡公司在網上賭博網站作支付交收視作違法行為,即變相大幅收窄美國國民在網上賭博的範圍,目前只等待布殊總統會否大筆一揮通過,而不少經營網上賭博的上市公司股價已即時跌個四輪朝天。其中一間於倫敦上市的公司PartyGaming Plc 便指面對結束美國的網上賭博業務,決定取消派中期股息。另一間888Plc更要將美國業務轉型。另一單震撼消息當然是全球最大博彩業者Harrah’s Entertainment(HET)被私人直接投資公司Apollo Management和Texas Pacific Group提出以高達150億美元(約1,170億港元)的收購建議。若交易成功,更成為全球歷史上第五大槓桿收購案。該公司總部位於拉斯維加斯,旗下擁有或管理著逾40家賭場。雖然近來美國投資者對各種類型博彩公司的興趣有所增加。但HET股價自5月來一直下跌,因憂慮美國經濟疲弱及該公司發展成本不斷上漲,及在拉斯維加斯和大西洋城等有大型計劃等,令投資者卻步。HET股價周一便升13.9%,報75.68美元,創98年以來最大單日升幅,可見收購的威力。但更重要的是,博彩業者的眼球已轉向美國以外地區,亞洲又豈能不成為下一個新戰場,史丹利何派完月餅又可派甚麼迎戰?

(10月4日刊於《am730》)

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