Google data centers – how do they do it?

Woke up this morning thinking about the magnitude of the Google backbone and asked myself how do they do that? What public information is out there describing their data center. So to answer that I Google a little bit to find what I can dig..

So let’s start with a single data center. Is there any reliable insight into how does a Google data center look like?

Google Data Center Video
This is a 6 minutes video of Google first container based data center. Not the most exciting video but it gives you a feel for what a 45,000 servers data center look like. This data center is based on container, each container is packed with 1,000 servers.

Each Google container is running 1,000 servers
Each Google container is running 1,000 servers

When saying 1,000 servers, we mean Google servers. These are built using standard components that you and me can buy in stores.

An inside view into a single container
Google server container inside view

But unlike the traditional approach to servers that provide a closed pizza box with internal cooling systems, the Google servers are completely naked, no unneeded cards, no unneeded cooling systems and no unneeded box. Instead these are open box, almost naked to the level of a motherboard. The secret is that the cooling, power management and everything else that can be done on the level of the container is done on that level. Bringing the data center into a much higher efficiency compared to standard measures. Picture below shows you how a single server look like. The picture shows an actual Google server. It is not a server that was opened to show the inside but rather this is the complete box that is installed on the container’s rack.

For more information on the Google server read the following from CNET Google uncloaks once-secret server

Google own testimony in Going green at Google suggests that using this server/container architecture Google is getting much more efficient data center, which is both good for the environment and good for Google. They kind of suggest competitors to learn from their experience and build more efficient data centers 🙂

Small efficiency on the server level but much better efficiency at the data center level
Going green at Google

The next set of questions to ask is how many data centers and how many servers does Google operates these days?

I will try to answer these questions next time…


Author: dave

Consider myself kid in soul and naive by choice. I am interested in people, technology and business and thrive when they all work together. My favorite quote and motto is that “You can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time” ― Bob Marley

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