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Search No More for Google Datacenters

By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Google this!

A sunset over Saint Ghislain, Belgium illuminates Google’s water storage tanks and cooling towers. Photo Credit: Google

Your computer has already whizzed its way into one or more of six U.S. and two foreign data warehouses where Google servers wait for mouse clicks. The technology company opened virtual tours of its facilities in North and South Carolina, Oregon, Iowa and Oklahoma as well as Finland and Belgium sites. Sometimes housed in renovated factories—one a historic Finnish paper mill—and others in brand new ground-up facilities, Google offers a photo gallery of each.

The technological nerve centers are generally mirrors of each other – endless banks of thousands of custom-built Google servers, miles of fiber optic and copper wire, generators, batteries and cooling systems. The power back-up and cooling systems dominate the landscape at the data centers. Google touts its efforts to use sea water in Finland and captured rainwater in South Carolina to reduce its environmental footprint. Renewable energy is powering some data centers as the company looks to cut its power demand.

Adding to its capacity, Google is building additional data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Chile. The data centers are used to cache the findings of search spiders to speed results to computer queries. More controversially, the centers also store user data collected each time a computer user visits Google or links to a source through search results or advertising clicks.

Many data center operators are shy about identifying facility locations, so Google’s move towards transparency surprised many in the industry. Google will not discuss its physical site security and is cagey about how data and physical plants are protected. In Phoenix, some data centers use armed, uniformed security details—some with automatic weapons—in combination with hardware and software protection systems.

The company’s data centers are located in: Berkeley County, S.C.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Douglas County, Ga.; Lenoir, N.C.; Mayes County, Okla.; The Dalles, Ore.; Hamina, Finland; and St. Ghislain, Belgium.

Read more at Google