A Glimpse Inside Google's Lenoir Data Center

Google has cracked opened its data center doors – just slightly – and allowed media to have a look inside one its facilties. The company is renowned for the secrecy surrounding its data center operations, which it considers to be a competitive advantage in its battle with business rivals like Microsoft and Yahoo. Google recently allowed a reporter and photographer from the Charlotte Observer to visit the office area of its data center in Lenoir, North Carolina, about 70 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Here’s perhaps the most interesting revelation from the Observer’s story: data center employees get free beer on Friday afternoons at a bar area built inside the data center, complete with a tavern-style neon “Google” logo. It’s part of a larger effort to provide Google data center staffers with complete on-site amenities. An excerpt:

The bright, open work area is located on the building’s second floor, with large windows offering a view of the Blue Ridge mountains. It’s accented in red, blue, green and yellow, and has a racing theme in homage to Carolinas heritage – think checkered flags, race car pieces on the wall and conference rooms named for NASCAR tracks. … Employees can play Rock Band on an Xbox and 46-inch flat-screen television, shoot pool at a locally made custom table, play pingpong and foosball, shoot Nerf guns or sit in a black leather massaging chair. Free snacks, drinks and coffee are always available, and lunch from a different local restaurant arrives around 1 p.m.

But please, Googlefolk: no beer or nerf gun battles on the data center floor!

The Observer staffers don’t appear to have gotten a look at the data center technical area, with the tour restricted to the office area. Facility manager Tom Jacobik told the paper the amenities were consistent with Google’s workplace culture. “We are very cognizant of the economy, and we have done a bit of scaling down,”  Jacobik said. “But it hasn’t prevented us from giving employees the right tools to do their jobs.” 

Google announced plans for its $600 million data center in Lenoir in Jan. 2007. The company held a grand opening in May 2008, but some construction work continued until December.

The Observer has a photo gallery of scenes from the Google facility, including a welcome mat reading “There’s no place like”

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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.

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  1. KathrynAO

    Goofing off at Google The photo of the employees relaxing in front of the tube or unwinding with a game of pool was surrounded by the misery of job losses and deprivation. Jen Aronoff does a great job of capturing the bloated decadence of a leviathan that is swining in their hammocks taking competitive potshots at almost every business vertical market and winning. As workers everywhere (except Google apparently)step up their efforts to weather the downturn it is sickening to think that the tax payers of North Carolina forked over $260 Million in tax breaks to support Google's goof off culture!

  2. Wack-a-mole

    KathrynAO -> Obviously you've never worked in a datacenter. 1)Customers yelling at you to get 10 hours of work done in 1 hour 2)Never makeing a mistake, or your fired 3)Working 15+ hour days These are just some of the reasons the average Datacenter worker moves on after 1 year of service. Obviously when you have the big bucks, your going to treat your team well. Exspecially in the economy where any other DC company can steal your employees with better benifits. $250 mil in tax breaks? Ya, and the DC will spend that on Grid power and cooling expenses in the first year. (may the first 3 depending on size) Sorry, but either stop your complaining or put that company bagle back.