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October 17, 2012

Inside the Forbidden World of Google Data Centers

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

While it's common knowledge that Google (News - Alert) lives, breathes and runs on data, the operation of Google's data centers is a much bigger gray area. But Google's out to throw back the curtain on the highly secretive operation by way of a new website launched earlier today that exhibits just what's going on in the company’s massive complexes.

The website features photos from the eight data centers currently running in the United States, as well as Belgium and Finland. Google also has plans to build several new data centers focusing on the Asian market, with plans to build in China, Taiwan, Singapore and even Hong Kong.

Those wanting to check out the Google data center in North Carolina will even be able to do so via a tour run by Google's popular "Street View" system.

The site itself is split into three primary components: The Tech, The People and The Places. All of these are reasonably self-explanatory, as The Tech focuses the technology powering Google, from data servers to pressurized water systems for cooling and emergency fire interdiction in a series of 21 photographs, each with accompanying explanations.

The People, meanwhile, offers 14 pictures, and introduces some of the names behind Google's massive data operations, along with explanation of what it is they do to make Google's systems run smoothly.

Lastly, there's The Places, providing 19 images of eight different facilities where Google has set up shop.

While the look inside Google's operations will likely be nowhere near as comprehensive as some –especially Google's competition – would have liked, it's still going to be an interesting and very low-impact show. It won't take long to view all the pictures that Google's made of its operations, and some of them, as well as their accompanying captions, are rather interesting.

There's one shot that involves a family of deer that moved in outside one of Google's data centers, a big bunch of eight deer outside the plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They all look like either does or very young deer, but it's still an interesting contrast between this small group of deer and the massive powder-blue edifice of Google's data center right behind them.

Just why Google opened up what amounts to a photo album of its operations is somewhat unclear. Maybe it’s trying to win points with environmentalists; that family of deer right beside a data center speaks volumes about their overall safety. Maybe it’s trying to soften their image; Google's "don't be evil" motto has left more than a few folks suspicious since it was conceived.

Or maybe they just want to give us, the user base, a little better understanding of where it was our favorite cat video came from on YouTube (News - Alert).

There's no telling just how long the pictures will be available, so it's worth checking out while it's still in play, especially if you've wondered what Google's data centers were like on the inside.

Edited by Braden Becker
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