Video: Google’s Data Center Security

A look at the inside of a Google data center in South Carolina, showing tape storage modules.

Google today released a video showcasing the security and data protection practices in its data centers, which includes some interesting footage from the company’s data center in South Carolina. Most of the tour focuses on physical security and access control, including the security gates and biometric tools (iris scanners, in this case). It also showcases Google’s methodology for wiping and destroying hard disk drives when they fail or are taken out of service, including an on-site disk shredder. At about the 4 minute mark there’s the briefest of glimpses of the data center area, which shows tape libraries. This video runs about 7 minutes.

Near the end of the video there’s a reference to Google’s use of additional security measures not shown in the video – which can only be a reference to the sharks with friggin’ laser beams on their heads. Here’s a look at some of the coverage from Google’s previous disclosures about its data centers at the 2009 Data Center Efficiency Summit:

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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. Looks interesting. I wonder if they handle the challenge of moving large files from different network zones in the data center using physical or/and network solutions.

  2. I would try appengine if they had support for PHP.

  3. Paul

    Erdos, good developers are proficient in at least three programming languages and of those three it will be at least Java or Python, which, are both supported by Google App Engine. Please learn Java and/or Python. Not all problems can be resolved by PHP. Granted it is turing complete but certain projects will need to to use java/python, and then what ? You will change jobs ?

  4. A convenient time that this video comes out considering Amazons woes? Still, I do like that hard drive shredder. Much of the security is what I have laready used in many Equinix DC's, but the heat signature tracking is cool too.

  5. We use Google Apps for our website. The Python API is great, it's inexpensive and fast … All I could ask for is server-side JavaScript support.

  6. greg

    3:08 - Is that Windows XP running on a computer inside their data center? Not a good look for a security promotion video.

  7. Snuggles

    Black Mesa! (First!)

  8. monkey_do

    it is very very very sad to see them destroy the magnets inside the harddisks. perfectly good, usable magnets .. destroyed :` (

  9. Thanks for the video. It is so cool!

  10. bla

    There are reasons they don't support PHP in the appengine. Grow up and learn a real language.

  11. PHP is dead

    PHP is dead.

  12. Jeff Dickens

    Python will make you write better code.

  13. Matt

    @erdos: translation: "I would try appengine if I could code my way out of a paper sack instead of copy-pasting at random from Stackoverflow."

  14. Jim

    Interesting. If you look on google earth, none of the features shown in the video regarding gates, security, or the cooling lake are visible. It's just a building with a parking lot. I wonder if that's the real data center.

  15. Greg

    Get real guys, if you can't make it work in PHP, you're not real programmers. Python is great, as is Java, both of which I used before PHP. Our team has written an http server and an http crawler in PHP. The combination of high level abstraction combined with low level access (you can use pointers in PHP) makes it by far the best scripting language in my opinion. Just because it's easier to use for noobs does not make it any less impressive as a language. There isn't anything you can do in python that you can't do in PHP. There's a reason php is the most prominent web scripting language... by far...

  16. Ralph

    Risk Management... for unarmed threats only. Physical security is weak. A total destruction plan would use a truck bomb that would drive to the left of the guard shack through the open egress lane. Even if there were erectable tire spikes it would not stop solid tired trucks.

  17. hans

    So this is just Google propaganda as a response to Facebook's truly open data center designs. Google is just a proprietary hardware and proprietary software company. They just confirmed that with the Android 3.0 fiasco.

  18. Troy M

    Erdos, The workaround, as with other languages that you want to run on GAE that aren't Java or Python, is to use a Java based engine for your language of choice. Check out Quercus which would allow you to run PHP code on GAE.

  19. fred

    @Ralph: The point of those security measures is not to prevent data destruction, but to prevent data theft. The only safe bit is a bleached one. Regardless, they would no doubt have geo-redundant storage to prepare for such an eventuality. You (I assume) Americans really need to kick your habit for arming yourselves to the teeth and realise that hostility towards fellow countrymen is not something that will get you anywhere. I'm specifically addressing those who believe keeping a shotgun under your bed makes your neighbourhood a safer place. Google is an info-tech company, not a paramilitary force.

  20. Patrick

    The web servers in this video look different to those in this article: I wonder how they implemented the hard drive status on the front of the server.

  21. ZTiger

    But how well does their data center handle a zombie attack? That front gate looks like a week spot.

  22. andyg

    Seen better, you want to see the security in the VISA / Mastercard credit card data processing centres and non US government DC's :-), no laptops, sticks, phones cameras, weigh in and weigh out, biometric's makes google look like boy scouts! just a marketing promo, putting them on Google earth for a start is pretty funny :-)

  23. It made me wonder why Google is releasing this video and making such information go public. Data security centers should be confidential just like Area 51 of the US government. Even though it's just a snippet, it could still be used by anyone as a potential hacking tool. Or is Google making a coy out of us? Perhaps...

  24. iWarlock

    Skynet is almost complete. I wonder if in 5 years there's still just one dude guarding the entry gates or if it will be t800's ready to take your retina scan :)