<< by on April 4th, 2008
Ever wonder about Google’s data centers? I know I have. What do they do? Where are they? What do they look like?
The Dalles, OR
What is a data center?
A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression), and special security devices.
I guess to really start at the beginning, where did the name Google come from? According to Google’s own milestone site, Google is derived from the word Googol by Milton Sirotta and popularized in his uncle’s book Mathematics and the Imagination, Edward Kasner and another man, James Newman. Googol references the number 1 which is followed by 100 zeros. Use of this term was meaningful in the fact that the mission of Larry Page and Sergey Brin was to organize the “seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web.”
Where was the first Google data center?
The first data center was in Larry’s dorm room at Stanford in 1998. Larry and Sergei purchased a terabyte of disks (which equals 1,000 gigabytes). After that? Leased garage space in a friend’s house in Menlo Park, CA.
How many data centers does Google have now?
For obvious reasons Google doesn’t really want their capacity known. Understandably a lot is at stake should something happen to a data center. It’s most likely the one of the reasons Google likes to keep things as quiet as possible and like most companies they keep certain information close to the vest and don’t feel it necessary to release it to remain competitive. Can you blame them?
How big can a data center be?
HUGE. According to Rough Type The Dalles, Oregon data center site (located near water for hydro electric power) which is also is known as Project 02 houses warehouses that span 68,680 sq ft with cooling stations spanning 18,800 sq ft. The data center is expected to be operational in 2011.
The Web, the magazine says, “is no ethereal store of ideas, shimmering over our heads like the aurora borealis. It is a new heavy industry, an energy glutton that is only growing hungrier.
The Dalles, OR data center plans, Harpers.org
John Markoff of the NY Times:
Microsoft and Yahoo have announced that they are building big data centers upstream in Wenatchee and Quincy, Wash., 130 miles to the north. But it is a race in which they are playing catch-up. Google remains far ahead in the global data-center race, and the scale of its complex here is evidence of its extraordinary ambition.
Even before the Oregon center comes online, Google has lashed together a global network of computers — known in the industry as the Googleplex — that is a singular achievement. “Google has constructed the biggest computer in the world, and it’s a hidden asset,” said Danny Hillis, a supercomputing pioneer and a founder of Applied Minds, a technology consulting firm, referring to the Googleplex.
We know that these data centers are crucial to our every day lives on the internet and managing the huge amounts of information. It’s amazing how fast Google has grown from the dorm room in the 90s to now. I know many in the SEO industry have their beef with Google, but on the whole I think the company is doing more good than bad. They’re even going green, perhaps out of necessity for cheap power, but green nonetheless.
According to The Times article, the construction of the data center in Oregon has provided many jobs and will provide up to 200 permanent jobs when up and running. Google’s secrecy even with the nearby town mildly aggravates some but the competition of the industry and Google under constant scrutiny is no doubt the reason behind it.