Inside the cathedrals of the information age: Google reveals the secret data centres that power the web
They are the cathedrals of the information age - with the colour scheme of an adventure playground.
For the first time, Google has allowed cameras into its high security data centres - the beating hearts of its global network that allow the web giant to process 3 billion internet searches every day.
Only a small band of Google employees have ever been inside the doors of the data centres, which are hidden away in remote parts of North America, Belgium and Finland.
Their workplaces glow with the blinking lights of LEDs on internet servers reassuring technicians that all is well with the web, and hum to the sound of hundreds of giant fans and thousands of gallons of water, that stop the whole thing overheating.
"Very few people have stepped inside Google's data centers [sic], 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," the company said yesterday. Row upon row of glowing servers send and receive information from 20 billion web pages every day, while towering libraries store all the data that Google has ever processed - in case of a system failure.
With data speeds 200,000 times faster than an ordinary home internet connection, Google's centres in America can share huge amounts of information with European counterparts like the remote, snow-packed Hamina centre in Finland, in the blink of an eye.
The Google story began only 14 years ago as a university experiment with a few off-the-shelf servers. Now a multi-billion dollar company commanding huge advertising revenues and with unprecedented power over the way we use the internet, the company still appears to run on a hipster mentality.
Employees navigate vast data storage warehouses on technicolour G-bikes, the company revealed, while at the Oregon data centre, staff spend their hours between data analysis "hiking, fishing and wind surfing".
CLICK ON THE GALLERY ABOVE TO SEE THE IMAGES.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
British man arrested after children's throats slit in France
World news in pictures
'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...