The Illustrated Data Center

Over the past eight years, Data Center Knowledge has taken our readers inside many of the world’s most advanced data centers. On one level, these facilities are all about functionality – moving bits from one place to another and keeping servers online and working. But they have also become striking examples of the beauty of the built  environment, with a look and feel unlike other buildings. With the right perspective, the inside of a data center is a visual feast.

Today we kick off The Illustrated Data Center, a regular series that showcases some of the most unique and visually striking data centers we have seen. We begin with a look at the world of blinking lights that keep the Internet running, followed by photos illustrating the “Four Cs” of the inside of a data center – Corridors, Cabling, Cooling and Containment.

If your data centers is among those featured here, we invite you to share this page on Twitter (#illustratedDC) and other social media channels.

Into Darkness

Why are many data centers dark? Some attribute it to the desire for secrecy, to cloak systems in darkness so competitors can’t see what kind of equipment is running in your cabinet or cage. Some folks just think it looks cool. The darkness is interrupted by the lights on the servers, which blink away as they work.


A close up of a row of lights illuminating equipment inside a Savvis data center in Slough, outside of London. (Photo of Savvis Slough Campus by Luben Solev).


Blue LED lights adorn servers along rows of racks inside a Google data center in Douglas County, Georgia. Google uses LEDs because they are energy efficient, long lasting and bright. (Photo by Conne Zhou for Google)

A look at the blue-lit servers inside the cold aisle of the Facebook data center in Prineville, Oregon. Facebook opted for blue lights over slightly cheaper green ones because they looked cooler. (Photo: Facebook)


Red and green lights provide a Christmas-style contrast on equipment for the correlator in the ALMA Array Operations Site Technical Building, the world’s highest data center at 16,500 feet in the Chilean Andes. (Photo Credit: ALMA, S. Argandoña)


A field of blue lights on high-density servers is just part of the color palette at SuperNAP 7, the massive data center operated by Switch in Las Vegas. The facility’s three redundant power systems are all color coded. (Photo: Switch)

The interior of a 40-foot container inside the new Microsoft Chicago data center, packed with servers on either side of a center aisle (click to see a larger version of this image).

The interior of a 40-foot  data center container inside the Microsoft Chicago data center, packed with servers on either side of a center aisle (Photo: Microsoft).

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