A Rare Glimpse of Google's Data Centers

written by:
October 17, 2012

Information giant Google has centers all over the world that drive everything you see on the web. These recently released photos show the poetry that goes into organizing the sheer amount of data on the web.

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  At the Hamina, Finland, Google center, sprawling rows of servers line the floor of what was formerly a paper mill. The open space allowed for dozens of rows of servers.
    At the Hamina, Finland, Google center, sprawling rows of servers line the floor of what was formerly a paper mill. The open space allowed for dozens of rows of servers.
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  Here in the cooling plant, the frigid waters from the nearby Gulf of Finland enter the cooling ecosystem of the data center. Seawater is the main resource for keeping the plant cool rather than other means. The methodical arrangement provides an organized flow and a pretty appearance.
    Here in the cooling plant, the frigid waters from the nearby Gulf of Finland enter the cooling ecosystem of the data center. Seawater is the main resource for keeping the plant cool rather than other means. The methodical arrangement provides an organized flow and a pretty appearance.
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  Google keeps things color coordinated better than anyone. Reminiscent of their colorful search logo, these pipes help keep the Hamina run on 100-percent unprocessed water from the Gulf. Instead of worrying about the cleanliness for drinking, Google figured it'd be easier to adapt to the resources around them.
    Google keeps things color coordinated better than anyone. Reminiscent of their colorful search logo, these pipes help keep the Hamina run on 100-percent unprocessed water from the Gulf. Instead of worrying about the cleanliness for drinking, Google figured it'd be easier to adapt to the resources around them.
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  We've all fawned over the comfortable accouterments of the Google headquarters before. Even the data centers are upscale. At Hamina, this bare conference table with a slatted-wood ceiling sits near the employee sauna area.
    We've all fawned over the comfortable accouterments of the Google headquarters before. Even the data centers are upscale. At Hamina, this bare conference table with a slatted-wood ceiling sits near the employee sauna area.
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  The Mayes County, Oklahoma, center displays the uniformity that Google has come to symbolize. By connecting the same color wire to the same switch on each server rack, there's no confusion in case something goes wrong. For an organized soul, the sorted bliss these Ethernet cables provide is second to none.
    The Mayes County, Oklahoma, center displays the uniformity that Google has come to symbolize. By connecting the same color wire to the same switch on each server rack, there's no confusion in case something goes wrong. For an organized soul, the sorted bliss these Ethernet cables provide is second to none.
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  Again, organization is king. It's easy to let a mess of wires distract from the overall function of the server. But these miles of cable are bundled together neatly to monitor the controls for the cooling system at the Berkeley County, South Carolina, Center.
    Again, organization is king. It's easy to let a mess of wires distract from the overall function of the server. But these miles of cable are bundled together neatly to monitor the controls for the cooling system at the Berkeley County, South Carolina, Center.
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  Each server is outfitted with a very bright, very environmentally friendly LED light that will last much longer than a CFL bulb. The shifting color spectrums are a signal to anyone walking between them about what each server's status is. It's reminiscent of a system you might see in NORAD.
    Each server is outfitted with a very bright, very environmentally friendly LED light that will last much longer than a CFL bulb. The shifting color spectrums are a signal to anyone walking between them about what each server's status is. It's reminiscent of a system you might see in NORAD.
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  Here's another display of the colorful water pipes, this time in Douglas County, Georgia. The extensive network of pipes winds its way throughout the centers in a choreographed chaos. In the foreground: the "G-Bike," which workers use to move around the enormous centers.
    Here's another display of the colorful water pipes, this time in Douglas County, Georgia. The extensive network of pipes winds its way throughout the centers in a choreographed chaos. In the foreground: the "G-Bike," which workers use to move around the enormous centers.
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  Motion sensors are calibrated to detect anything moving about in the server rooms. When left vacant, they'll shut off the overhead lights to save on electricity. In the dark, the lights of the servers are left to glow smoothly through the night.
    Motion sensors are calibrated to detect anything moving about in the server rooms. When left vacant, they'll shut off the overhead lights to save on electricity. In the dark, the lights of the servers are left to glow smoothly through the night.
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  Inside the network rooms is a robust system of fiber optic routers that allow workers to communicate with each other within the colorful server stacks. That connection’s speed would leave your typical home connection in the dust as they run along the bright yellow trays near the ceiling.
    Inside the network rooms is a robust system of fiber optic routers that allow workers to communicate with each other within the colorful server stacks. That connection’s speed would leave your typical home connection in the dust as they run along the bright yellow trays near the ceiling.
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  To facilitate a lower operating temperature, Google hung transparent, plastic curtains between the servers and the walking areas. Inside, they'll pump cold air through the vents while allowing the outside air to stay warm.
    To facilitate a lower operating temperature, Google hung transparent, plastic curtains between the servers and the walking areas. Inside, they'll pump cold air through the vents while allowing the outside air to stay warm.
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  Like a scene out of Tron, this is a rare look between the server racks. The multitude of tiny fans on the rear end of the servers channels heat into a cooling recirculation system.
    Like a scene out of Tron, this is a rare look between the server racks. The multitude of tiny fans on the rear end of the servers channels heat into a cooling recirculation system.
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  To keep their loyal users and their information safe and sound, it's Google's policy to round up old drives and destroy them on-site. Thousands of gigabytes can pile up, like a microscopic metropolis.
    To keep their loyal users and their information safe and sound, it's Google's policy to round up old drives and destroy them on-site. Thousands of gigabytes can pile up, like a microscopic metropolis.
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  Not all of the interesting things happen inside of the data centers, though. The economical use of water for cooling creates a soothing mountain mist when release through the steam pipes on top of the center in The Dalles, Oregon.
    Not all of the interesting things happen inside of the data centers, though. The economical use of water for cooling creates a soothing mountain mist when release through the steam pipes on top of the center in The Dalles, Oregon.
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  The multitudes of cooling tanks create the image of a small army, waiting to deploy the thousands of gallons of water at hand for cooling. These tanks in Belgium are constantly on hand should they need more cooling water.
    The multitudes of cooling tanks create the image of a small army, waiting to deploy the thousands of gallons of water at hand for cooling. These tanks in Belgium are constantly on hand should they need more cooling water.

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