Google Doubles Investment in S.C. Data Center

Google said late last week that it plans to invest $600 million more in its South Carolina data center operation, bringing the total investment in the site to more than $1.2 billion.

Google first announced plans for a South Carolina data center at Berkeley County’s Mt. Holly Commerce Park in 2007. It made an initial investment of $600 million to get the center up and running. In November 2010, Google announced plans to construct a second building at the site, which is now in operation; the company didn’t say what it planned to do with the additional $600 million, although a third building seems more than likely.

A Google spokeswoman declined to share specifics about the company’s new investment, writing in an email: “We’re still finalizing the overall development plan for the new facility, so I don’t have exact details to share, but we expect construction to get underway shortly.” She also declined to comment when asked about the extent of Google’s computing resources at the facility.

Google said that it plans to operate cloud services including Google search, Gmail, its Google+ social network, plus YouTube from the site. Google typically makes a number of improvements in the local community to sweeten the deal; in South Carolina’s case, that included more than $885,000 in grants to local schools and nonprofits, plus a free, downtown Wi-Fi network in nearby Goose Creek, S.C.

Google currently operates six data centers within the United States: Council Bluffs, Iowa; Douglas County, Georgia; Mayes County, Okla.; Lenoir, N.C.; and The Dalles, Ore. A seventh data center in Chile serves South America, and it also has three data centers serving Europe with another three planned for Asia. A site in Hong Kong is operational, while a site in Singapore is due to be completed in the first half of 2013, with an additional facility in Taiwan due to be completed in the second half of this year.

The Berkeley County site represents the most money that Google has publicly invested in a data center, however, leading to the possibility that Google will invest in a second round of expansions within its current data center facilities. Google typically spends between $600 million and $700 million per data center—the amount it allocated for the Georgia, North Carolina, and Oregon facilities—with only Council Bluffs receiving more, at $900 million. Google hasn’t said what it spent in Georgia, however.

Google noted its recent increase in investment in its third-quarter 2012 results, where the “other cost of revenues” (made up of data center operational expenses, amortization of intangible assets, content acquisition costs, credit card processing charges, and manufacturing and inventory-related costs) increased to $3.78 billion, or 27 percent of revenues, in the third quarter of 2012. That’s a significant increase from the third quarter of 2011, when it totaled $1.17 billion, or 12 percent of revenues. Google reports its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings after the bell today.


Image: Google