Saturday, September 16, 2006

The global data-center race

In Dallas Google is working on a secret weapon in its effort to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard for Google to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky.

Microsoft and Yahoo have announced that they are building big data centers as well. Google remains far ahead in the global data-center race, and the scale of its complex here is evidence of its extraordinary ambition. The design and even the nature of the Google center in this industrial and agricultural outpost 80 miles east of Portland has been a closely guarded corporate secret.

The Google complex will tap into the region's large surplus of fiber optic networking, a legacy of the dot-com boom. Local residents are at once enthusiastic and puzzled about their affluent but secretive new neighbor, a successor to the aluminum manufacturers that once came seeking the cheap power that flows from the dams holding back the powerful Columbia. Maybe we could do something with the old pulp and paper plants that will emerge in the years to come.
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