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 127.0.0.1"