Google Gives Virtual Look At Data Centers

Google gave the world a virtual look into its data centers Wednesday -- the physical hub where it processes search and email requests, serves and stores bits and bytes related to online ads and streams YouTube video clips.

The high-resolution color photos from inside some of the eight data centers highlight those in the U.S., Belgium and Finland. Google is also building data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Chile. Hot buttons on the site highlight specific details about the center, such as "a sustainable data center starts with making our computers use as little electricity as possible."

Google revealed the details of its infrastructure, such as cooling systems, and a focus on ecology.

The servers and centers must remain at a low temperature to retain the data. One of the photo description details: for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced in the U.S., two gallons of water get consumed. By using less electricity to power the computing infrastructure, Google saves fresh water, claiming that annually, each data center saves hundreds of millions of gallons of drinking water by consuming less electricity.

The site describes a campus network room filled with routers and switches that call the data center to communicate with each other over fiber-optics that run at speeds more than 200,000 times faster than typical home Internet connections.

It takes ample processing power and storage space to run online ad, search and marketing engines. Processing and storing data requires different sets of hardware. processes about 100 gigabytes of data per hour. This breaks down to about 2.5 terabytes daily or roughly 18 terabytes per week. The data isn't stored in a raw form, but rather the reporting warehouse keeps 2 terabytes of aggregated data and about 1 terabyte of real-time data, explains Adam Epstein, president and COO for the company.

Microsoft Bing collects and processes tens of terabytes per day, according to a source in the know. Google's multibillion-dollar infrastructure allows it to index 20 billion Web pages daily. This year, it has processed more than 30 trillion unique URLs on the Web, up from 1 trillion in 2008. Its servers receive more than 3 billion search queries daily or 100 billion a month. Google supports 425 million Gmail users, according to a spokesperson. 

Those sums are only search queries and ads, which doesn't include videos. On YouTube, Google estimates 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly eight years of content uploaded daily. Videos take more space to process content, stream and store compared with text.

In this 2010 video, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt explains to Stephen Colbert how the company collects, stores and uses data -- both private and public. That same year, Schmidt said "every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003" -- about five exabytes of data.

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