Google offers secret glimpse into 'where the internet lives'
GOOGLE has offered a rare glimpse into the secret world of the vast data centres that power the largest search engine in the world.
Photos released by the internet giant reveal the heart of Google's operations. The data centres are a maze of corridors filled with a complicated web of cables, pipes and servers.
Google employees are also pictured at work, and it is revealed that engineers even have bicycles, named "G-Bikes", to navigate the vast warehouses.
Its seven data centres are located across the United States, while both Belgium and Finland also host a centre each.
On the website, the company reveals that thousands of feet of pipeline line the inside of the data centres. "We paint them bright colours not only because it's fun, but also to designate which one is which," the website says.
The data centres exhibit a vast array of high-tech equipment which help the search engine manage services such as Gmail, Google Search and YouTube.
Pipes are equipped with highly-pressurised water in case of fire, while at the plant in Finland, seawater from the Gulf of Finland cools the data centre. The building was specifically chosen due to its location close to the water and was converted from an old paper mill.
The data centre in South Carolina contains a huge library in which data is backed up and stored, should anything go wrong. Robotic arms travel the length of the library to help staff access tapes when they need them.
The buildings vary in size but many of the centres are so large that staff need bicycles to get around. At the Council Bluffs center in Iowa, there is 115,000 square feet of space.
At the Oregon plant, the coloured pipes are painted to help staff recognise their purpose. "Blue pipes supply cold water and the red pipes return the warm water back to be cooled," the website says.
"Very few people have stepped inside Google’s data centres, and for good reason: our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it, keeping our sites under close guard," Google said.
"While we’ve shared many of our designs and best practices, and we’ve been publishing our efficiency data since 2008, only a small set of employees have access to the server floor itself.
"Today, for the first time, you can see inside our data centres and pay them a virtual visit.
"On Where the internet lives, our new site featuring beautiful photographs by Connie Zhou, you’ll get a never-before-seen look at the technology, the people and the places that keep Google running."
Google is also offering people the chance to go on a virtual tour of a North Carolina centre using Google Street view, which the company already uses to offer detailed photos of local neighbourhoods.
By Alice Philipson Telegraph.co.uk