Mar 20, 2015

Big Data - A Google Data Center Tour


By on Friday, March 20, 2015

Inside the campus network room, routers and switches allow each of Google's data centers to talk to each other. The fiber optic networks connecting our sites can run at speeds that are more than 200,000 times faster than a typical home Internet connection. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.

Google's Council Bluffs data center provides over 115,000 square feet of space. They make the best out of every inch, so you can use services like Search and YouTube in the most efficient way possible.

Hovering above the floor in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the scale of Google's data center there begins to take shape. Huge steel beams both support the structure and help distribute power.

Plastic curtains hang in a network room inside their Council Bluffs data center. Here they serve up cold air through the floor, and the clear plastic barriers help keep the cold air in while keeping hot air out.

These colorful pipes are responsible for carrying water in and out of Google's Oregon data center. The blue pipes supply cold water and the red pipes return the warm water back to be cooled.

The pipes aren't the only colorful things at their data centers. These cables are organized by their specific hue. On the floor, this can make things less technical: “Hand me a blue one."

As part of Google's commitment to keeping their users' data safe, they destroy all failed drives, on site.

Thousands of feet of pipe line the inside of Google's data centers. They paint them bright colors not only because it's fun, but also to designate which one is which. The bright pink pipe in this photo transfers water from the row of chillers (the green units on the left) to a outside cooling tower.

Blue LEDs on this row of servers tell them everything is running smoothly. They use LEDs because they are energy efficient, long lasting and bright.

An overhead view of one of their cooling plants, where seawater from the Gulf of Finland entirely cools the data center there.

Server floors like these require massive space and efficient power to run the full family of Google products for the world. Here in Hamina, Finland, they chose to renovate an old paper mill to take advantage of the building's infrastructure as well as its proximity to the Gulf of Finland's cooling waters.

In case anything should happen to their data, they have it all backed up. One of the places they back up information is here in their tape library. Robotic arms (visible at the end of the aisle) assist them in loading and unloading tapes when they need to access them.

This is a closer view of the backup tapes in their tape library. Each tape has a unique barcode so their robotic system can locate the right one.

Each of their server racks has four switches, connected by a different colored cable. They keep these colors the same throughout their data center so we know which one to replace in case of failure.

A rare look behind the server aisle. Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of their servers.

Denise Harwood diagnoses an overheated CPU. For more than a decade, they have built some of the world's most efficient servers.

This control station monitors the building and power with the ability to take calls from the field, validate repair tickets and authorize repairs.

Patrick Davillier does a visual inspection of the water pipes running below the floor.

Roger Harris takes care of the infrastructure "that allows Google to do what it does,” he says.

Steam rises above the cooling towers in The Dalles data center in Oregon. These plumes of water vapor create a quiet mist at dusk.

Dusk settles around Google's data center in Douglas County, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta.


A tour through a Google Datacenter

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