Google’s Infrastructure Boom Continues: Expansion Ahead in Oregon


Google is not done with its extraordinary data center building boom. The company is preparing for an expansion of its data center campus in Oregon and will likely file permits to build additional data centers on its property in The Dalles.

“We’re getting our ducks in a row so that, should we decide to expand, we can move quickly,” wrote Kate Hurowitz, a Google spokeswoman in California, in an e-mail to The Oregonian. Google’s expansion plans were first reported by The Dalles Chronicle. Google has three data center buildings at The Dalles, which was the first company-built data center campus. Last year Google did a “rip and replace” upgrade of the electrical infrastructure to boost its server capacity. But that’s clearly not enough, as the company now indicates it may seek permits to build two more data centers on the property it owns in The Dalles, where the company has access to cheap land and power on the banks of the Columbia River.

The news comes on the heels of a string of data center expansion announcements in 2013, in which Google has committed to pump $2 billion into expansions of existing data center campuses. The expansion announcements include:

The scope and acceleration of Google’s data center construction program makes it clear that the company sees massive growth ahead in its Internet businesses. Google is fanatical about data, and closely tracks the growth and utilization of its infrastructure. As this construction spending begins to enter the pipeline, Google’s capital expenses on servers and data centers has soared past $1 billion per quarter. The three expansion announcements in April suggest this spending will increase in coming months.

Google’s 2013 building boom represents the largest investment in data center infrastructure in the history of the Internet, eclipsing the company’s initial burst of projects in 2007. Google is not alone. With yesterday’s announcement of a new project in Iowa, Facebook is now building new data centers in four markets, while Apple is commencing build-outs of massive server farms in Nevada and Oregon, and Microsoft has announced new facilities in Virginia and Wyoming.

What do these huge expansions tell us about the future of Internet infrastructure? Big data means big data centers. All the data we generate each day  – as we write and receive emails, watch videos, upload photos and create PowerPoint presentations – must live somewhere. Much of it will reside in the massive server farms of the cloud builders. Much more of it will live in smaller data centers around the nation and the world, within reach of “server huggers” in enterprises and small businesses.

How much is the Internet growing? For Google, the answer is clearly “more.”

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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. Frank Daley

    The data center appears to be perilously close to the river level. What measures are in place to handle potential flooding from the Columbia River?

  2. Australian Sailor

    I sailed along the Columbia River through The Dalles Astoria a few years ago and needed to transit through Bonneville Lock and dams to make it to The Dalles. I suspect the if rising water levels were an issue, they could open the lock/dam downstream and prevent water levels rising to a dangerous point.