Google Invests $890 Million in Data Centers

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Google invested $890 million in its data center infrastructure in the first three months of 2011, the second-highest total in its history, the company said Thursday in its latest quarterly report. In fact, it’s Google’s biggest capital expenditure (CapEx) spending for any quarter in which it hasn’t bought one of New York’s largest buildings.

Google spent a record $2.55 billion on CapEx in the fourth quarter of 2010, most of it related to the purchase of 111 8th Avenue, a 2.9 million square foot building in New York that is one of the city’s premier Internet and telecom hubs. It also serves as the main New York office for Google, which has about 2,000 employees on site.

Google’s data center spending in the first quarter was slightly more than Q1 2008 when it spent $842 million on four active data center projects under construction in the United States. Here’s a look at the company’s recent spending trend:

  • 1Q 2007: $597 million
  • 2Q 2007: $575 million
  • 3Q 2007: $553 million
  • 4Q 2007: $678 million
  • 1Q 2008: $842 million
  • 2Q 2008: $698 million
  • 3Q 2008: $452 million
  • 4Q 2008:$368 million
  • 1Q 2009: $263 million
  • 2Q 2009: $139 million
  • 3Q 2009: $186 million
  • 4Q2009: $221 million
  • 1Q2010: $239 million
  • 2Q2010: $476 million
  • 3Q2010: $757 million
  • 4Q2010: $2.55 Billion
  • 1Q2011: $890 million

A capital expenditure is an investment in a long-term asset, typically physical assets such as buildings or machinery. Google says the majority of its capital investments are for IT infrastructure, including data enters, servers, and networking equipment. In the past the company’s CapEx spending has closely tracked its data center construction projects, each of which requires between $200 million and $600 million in investment.

Where is the first quarter’s $890 million in data center spending going? In recent months the company has resumed construction on a data center in Oklahoma and begun second phases at existing data center campuses in North Carolina and South Carolina. Google is also building a facility in Hamina, Finland.

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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