Google Data Centers: Sustainability, Innovation, and Transparency


Introducing Google Data Centers 

One of the leading companies in the data center design is Google. Its centers are an example of transparency, innovation, and sustainability. Unlike Amazon, Google shares every shareable detail about its processing centers. Another difference from Amazon is that the company does not sell space to other companies. The infrastructure of the company’s data hubs is designed to support the Cloud and keep the company's products, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, going. The efficiency of these processing hubs makes it possible to index more than 20 billion pages, manage more than 3,5 billion search queries, and serve over a billion hours of YouTube each day.

Sustainability Practices

Google hopped on a data center train quite early, starting with a 2006 Oregon location. The company decided to build its own data hubs because its needs were unmatched by the market offers. Throughout the years, Google has achieved the status of a sustainability leader. One of the most impressive sustainability efforts is that the company purchases renewable energy to match 100 percent of the energy consumed in the data centers. Since 2017, the company has been able to achieve this goal consistently. In 2019,  the corporation purchased $2 billion in renewable energy all over the world, which is more than any other business ever. The company is not merely buying energy from wind and solar farms- it invests in new alternative energy projects for the sake of their growth. What is more, Google's data hubs are a socially responsible business that helps local companies and non-profit organizations to strive through creating grants and local initiatives.

Data Center Locations

Google currently has over a hundred points of presence, and this number continues to grow. The company has thirteen data hub locations in the United States. They are located in Iowa, South Carolina, Oregon, Georgia, Nevada, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, and Nebraska. Outside of the United States, the company operates data hubs in Chile, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Thailand, and Singapore. Since 2019, the company plans to invest €3 billion to expand its data center business in Europe while continuing to support local businesses. The company is known to focus on creating jobs for regional economies in every country where its data centers are located.

Relentless Focus On Innovation and Transparency

Google data centers have an extended focus on innovation. Almost all of the infrastructure is designed specifically for the company’s unique computing needs, which makes it so effective. Everything works to provide the highest performance at optimal costs. Notably, the company is known for its fault-tolerant equipment design. There is no need to take anything down when the system's component fails because everything can be easily fixed on the spot. The equipment has built-in hooks that allow the company to upgrade it on the go. Centers are stocked with engineers who have been involved in every stage of equipment design. When a certain issue arises, the information is sent to every data hub of the company around the world, so that everyone can learn from it. Because of the innovative design, the company has lower instances of human errors in their data hubs compared to competitors.

Buildings of data hubs are constructed according to technologies that minimize the use of resources, such as water and energy. The company does not use unnecessary equipment. All of the resources are flexible and adaptable so that they can be altered at any given moment. Cooling systems are fully designed with the company’s unique needs in mind as well. Some of the centers are revolutionarily cooled with fresh air only without using any water.

The transparency does not end with disclosing a lot of information about centers to the general audience. In fact, the company gives 3D tours of its data centers to media outlets and various organizations. The reports about these 3D tours are frequently posted online. Google shares the experience with the companies willing to innovate. Design choices that improve data efficiency are readily available for everyone to use. For instance, some of its designs are shared with OpenComputers. However, the company combines transparency with strict security practices in all locations.

Cables & Wires in Google Data Centers

Google's IP network consists of the company's own fiber, public fiber, and undersea data cables. Cables are optimized to serve the organization's specific needs, just like any other product used there. The company experiments with its own FttH/B build-outs. Electrical distribution systems in the company's data hubs are fully customized. The company eliminates energy loss during the UPS stage by placing its batteries on the board tray to reduce three conversion stages and plant the DC straight into server components. 

The company’s data hubs rely on fiber optic cable systems. Google primarily uses fiber optics cables because it can afford them and because they support innovation by ensuring fast operations all over the world. Thanks to the efficiency of the fiber optic cable system, a single building supports 75,000 computers and carries one petabit on bandwidth per second, which is more than on all Internet combined. To sustain its operations,  the enterprise runs private backbone network P4, which carries more traffic than Google's public network at the moment. As a matter of fact, the company’s use of fiber optic cable systems goes beyond its data centers. Google Fiber, one of the Alphabet Inc. companies, provides fiber-to-the premise services to install Internet and IPTV using fiber-optic networks. 

These processing centers have an overhead power distribution that comes from the outside yards that bring in the high voltage power to bus plugs where the extension cords are plugged. All the racks are custom-designed so that the services are optimized in the way that suits the company.

Google Subsea Cables

To transmit data worldwide, the corporation implements a system of consortium and private subsea cables.  Currently, fourteen subsea cable systems connect all of Google's operations-Unity, SJC, FASTER, Junior, Tannat, Monet, Indigo, Curie, Havfrue, JGA-S, PLCN, Dunant, and Kong-Guam Cable system (HK-G). Equiano, the latest subsea cable system, is to be launched in 2021. It will connect Africa to Europe. This cable will have 20 times the capacity of the newest cable used in the region because of the fiber-level switching technology. The cable contains a larger amount of fibers, which reduces the overall price of the equipment. Dunant, another one of the company’s latest subsea cables, uses a new technology of space-division multiplexing, which maximizes the number of fiber pairs, making it easier to switch between pairs mechanically. 

The subsea cable system connects the entire world. Curie is a cable that connects Chile and Los Angeles. Havfrue is the cable that the company co-owns with Facebook. It connects the United States to Europe through Ireland and Denmark. HK-G is the cable that connects communication hubs in the Asian region. Junior, Curie, Dunant, and Equiano are privately-owned data cables. All in all, the network of Google’s fiber optic cables and subsea cables are responsible for about 25 percent of the world's traffic, according to the company's estimations. The technologies behind subsea cables are modernized continuously with each new installment.

What's next for Google?

Google designs its data hubs with the focus on the future, which means that the company will prevail in any circumstances. Unlike the companies that sell its cloud data storage, it made a safe choice by choosing to focus solely on supporting its products. In the nearest future, we will likely see the company expand its international data center network. The company is also set to remain a global leader of innovation. In the next installments of our blog, we will talk about what differentiates Google's closest competitors and collaborators, Facebook and Microsoft, in their attitudes towards the data center design and maintenance.

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