A Pictorial History of Google Server Racks

Microsoft’s James Hamilton often shares his notes from sessions at industry conferences on his Perspectives blog. This week he summarizes Jeff Dean’s presentation at the Google IO event (which we briefly noted last month). In addition to his notes, James includes photos that Dean provided showing the evolution of Google’s servers and racks from 1997 to the present. We’ve seen some of these before and noted them in the Google Data Center FAQ, but it’s interesting to see the year-to-year progression. My favorite detail: the room fan blowing air onto the racks in the picture from 2000.

It’s not always pretty, but the goal isn’t to have the most handsome racks. “My general rule on hardware is that, if you have a viewing window into the data center, you are probably spending too much on servers,” James writes. “The Google model of cheap servers with software redundancy is the only economic solution at scale.”

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.