A couple facts about Google’s data centers:
They’re really huge.
Their hardware powers Google’s Big Data needs.
And they’re colorful.
The search-engine giant has launched a Website titled “Google Data Centers,” which offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into its backend IT infrastructure. This is a mildly surprising turn of events: while Google’s offered glimpses of its custom servers, it’s traditionally done its best to drape its actual data-center operations in a veil of strict secrecy.
Earlier in 2012, for example, Wired published a lengthy article describing how Google disabled the light fixtures in the hardware cages it leased within an Equinix data center. “They had us turn off all overhead lights too, and their guys put on those helmets with lights you see miners wear,” Chris Sharp, general manager of content and cloud, told the magazine at the time. “Presumably, they were bringing up custom-built gear they didn’t want anyone else to see.”
When Google’s shared data-center details, it’s mostly emphasized the facilities’ energy-saving features. In 2011, the company finished converting an old paper mill in Finland into a data center serving the majority of its European customers. “When we acquired the mill it already had a massive seawater intake tunnel built underneath it, which brings seawater from the Gulf of Finland into an adjacent heat transfer station,” Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, told The Wall Street Journal. “We decided to reuse as much infrastructure as possible at the site, and found good use for this water tunnel.”
Google’s new Website offers a photo tour of its facilities—and not only are they big, but the various pipes and wires threading through them are brightly colored. Presumably, that’s so workers can more seamlessly maintain and repair the equipment as issues arise. But it also makes the spaces far more cheerful than your typical industrial space. Here are a few prime images:
This one purports to show how Google protects user data: by destroying failed drives onsite:
Ogle the massive proportions of Google’s Council Bluffs data center:
There are lots more photos of hardware and facilities (as well as the people who install that hardware and keep those facilities up to date) at the link. There’s also a Street View of Google’s North Carolina facility. Yet despite all that pretty imagery, Google is most assuredly keeping more than a few data-center secrets up its proverbial sleeve.