10 of the coolest photos from inside Google’s secret data centres

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Data centres aren’t usually synonymous with beauty. But, of course Google would have the most stunning server rooms in the world…. that no one besides a handful of employees can see.

But thanks to Google’s new website ‘Where the internet lives‘, you can take a virtual creep around its data centres from Finland to the US without infringing on other users’ privacy. The interactive gallery is stocked with amazing photographs by Connie Zhou which are annotated with captions and clickable hotspots which give you more detail about what you’re seeing. You can also head over to Street View and take a stroll through Google’s data centre in Lenoir in the United States, or read the article on the inside of the centre (Google let Wired’s Steven Levy inside) if you’re so inclined.

And yes, that really is a storm trooper (and a mini R2D2) casually standing guard over the servers in the Street View panorama.

stormtrooper google street view

1. The network room in Iowa

google data centre

In a haze of blue, yellow, black and red, the routers and switches inside this room make a data storage facility look like the inside of a rainbow. You can also catch a glimpse of the yellow fibre optic cable trays which house the cables that allow speeds 200 000 times faster than the average home internet connection.

2. The data centre in Iowa

google data centre

It’s big, blue and surprisingly pretty: this data centre has over 115 000 square feet of space and looks like a mass of carefully plotted horizontal and vertical lines.

3. Pipes in Oregon

data centre

Yes, Google’s colourful pipes have a purpose: they’re colour-coded according to their function (for example, the blue ones carry cold water in to cool down the servers, the red ones carry hot water out). Plus they look good.

4. Destroyed failed drives

data centre

Because its hard drives store so much personal information, they can’t be shipped off to some third-party to be destroyed if they fail. So Google does it itself, inside its facilities.

5. CPU diagnostics

google data centre

Google repair technician Denise Harwood diagnoses an over-heated CPU in this image, using a laptop that looks as though it may have borne a fruit before it met a copy of PhotoShop.

6. Satellites

data centre

Who would have though that the infrastructure which gives life to Google Fiber’s TV channels could look so good?

7. Welding

data centre

Associate facilities manager at the Lenoir centre, Jeff Hajer, makes welding wire look cool with his customised head-gear.

8. Winter in Finland

google data centre

This Finnish data centre has quite a view — it’s set alongside the Gulf of Finland, which ices over in winter so much that you can walk on it.

9. Conference, anyone?

data centre

The chairs in this conference room in Finland were designed by the same architect who designed the entire building (the room also sits alongside a sauna which employees can use whenever they like. Nice).

10. Technicolour wires

data center

Like the pipes, these wires are colour coded, which makes it easier to quickly find and replace them.

Images: Google / Connie Zhou

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