Google Data Center FAQ

An overhead view of the server infrastructure in Google's data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)

An overhead view of the server infrastructure in Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)

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Google’s data centers are the object of great fascination, and the intrigue about these facilities is only deepened by Google’s secrecy about its operations. We’ve written a lot about Google’s facilities, and thought it would be useful to summarize key information in a series of Frequently Asked Questions: The Google Data Center FAQ.

Why is Google so secretive about its data centers?
Google believes its data center operations give it a competitive advantage, and says as little as possible about these facilities. The company believes that details such as the size and power usage of its data centers could be valuable to competitors. To help maintain secrecy, Google typically seeks permits for its data center projects using Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) that don’t mention Google, such as Lapis LLC (North Carolina) or Tetra LLC (Iowa).

How many data centers does Google have?
Nobody knows for sure, and the company isn’t saying. The conventional wisdom is that Google has dozens of data centers. We’re aware of at least 12 significant Google data center installations in the United States, with another three under construction. In Europe, Google is known to have equipment in at least five locations, with new data centers being built in two other venues.

Google data centers locations?

Much of Google data center equipment is housed in the company’s own facilities, but it also continues to lease space in a number of third-party facilities. Much of its third-party data center space is focused around peering centers in major connectivity hubs. Most recently, Google brought its first West Coast cloud data center online in July 2016, promising its cloud users in cities like Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles big performance improvements if they choose to host their virtual infrastructure in the new region, called us-west1. Oregon is Google cloud’s fifth availability region. The other ones are Central US, Eastern US, Western Europe, and Eastern Asia. Here’s our best information about where Google is operating data centers, building new ones, or maintaining equipment for network peering. Facilities we believe to be major data centers are bold-faced.

UNITED STATES

  • Mountain View, Calif.
  • Pleasanton, Calif.
  • San Jose, Calif.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Seattle
  • Portland, Oregon
  • The Dalles, Oregon
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta, Ga. (two sites)
  • Reston, Virginia
  • Ashburn, Va.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Houston, Texas
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Lenoir, North Carolina
  • Berkeley County, South Carolina
  • Mayes County, Oklahoma
  • Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • Jackson County, Alabama (under construction)
  • Clarksville, Tennessee (planning)

INTERNATIONAL

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Munich, Germany
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Groningen, Netherlands
  • Mons, Belgium
  • Eemshaven, Netherlands
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Paris
  • London
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Milan, Italy
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Sao Paolo, Brazil
  • Tokyo
  • Hong Kong
  • Beijing
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Hamina, Finland
  • St. Ghislain, Belgium
  • Quilicura, Chile

Most of the international locations likely are for network peering or to house servers supporting the more than 192 country-specific versions of the Google search engine, up from 30 just three years ago.

Where is Google likely to build new data centers?

The company announced a big expansion of its cloud footprint in March 2016 that would add 10 new data center locations to support cloud services around the world that will consist of a mix of Google-built and leased facilities. However, the company didn’t reveal exact locations. Google has been behind its biggest competitors in the cloud services market in terms of number of available locations where customers can host their virtual infrastructure. Recently, however, it has increased focus in this business and ramped up investment in infrastructure to support it. Google also broke ground this year on a new, $600 million data center in rural Jackson County, Alabama, near Scottsboro on the site of a recently retired coal-fired power plant and has plans to build another in a former semiconductor fabrication plant in Clarksville, Tennessee.

What about these lists of Google IP addresses?
Many in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) community track progress in Google’s search results by checking some of the more than 500 IP addresses used by the Google search engine. Comparing Google search results from these different IP addresses can identify updates in Google’s index, especially changes in PageRank. However, these lists don’t necessarily represent separate physical data centers. Although Google’s data center network is distributed throughout the world, nearly all of its IP addresses resolve to Mountain View, California, where Google has its headquarters.

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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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