The Top 10 Data Center Images of 2012

The data center is ready for its close up. In 2012 we saw a welcome focus on the hidden beauty of data center technology, highlighted by several developments in a single week. On Oct. 10, Prentice Hall published The Art of the Data Center, a collection of photos and interviews of some of the world’s most unique IT facilities, curated by Cisco IT architect Douglas Alger. A week later, Google gave the world a look inside its data centers, publishing gorgeous photos taken by a leading architecture photographer.

Data Center Knowledge has been a pioneer in taking readers inside these amazing facilities with photo tours, as we’ve spent the last seven years bugging data center operators to share images with our readers. We continue the tradition with our Top 10 Data Center Images of 2012.


Here’s a rare look inside the hot aisle of a Google data center. The exhaust fans on the rear of the servers direct sever exhaust heat into the enclosed area. Chilled-water cooling coils, seen at the top of the enclosure, cool the air as it ascends. The silver piping visible on the left-hand side of the photo, which carry water to and from cooling towers. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)

Search giant Google provided the most comprehensive look yet inside its Internet infrastructure, releasing a portfolio of images of its data centers that reveal the technology powering its online information empire. The gallery titled Where the Internet Lives features images from Connie Zhou, who specializes in architecture photography, and showcases the beauty and complexity of the facilities that power the Internet. Google also used the StreetView component of its GoogleMaps app to provide a virtual tour of its data center in Lenoir, North Carolina.

RagingWire Data Centers

One of the distinctive features of the RagingWire data center is the attention to detail on cabling management, which is on display in this view of one of the tenant equipment areas. (Photo: RagingWire)

Each year we profile new data centers in key data center markets. This year that included the new RagingWire facility in Ashburn, Virginia. The 140,000 square feet facility is the first data center on the East Coast for the Sacramento, Calif.-based company. But there’s more to come – in October RagingWire announced plans to build a 750,000 square foot data center campus in Ashburn’s “Data Center Alley.”

The NCAR Supercomputer

The cabinets of the Yellowstone supercomputer, housed in the new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne. (Photo by Carlye Calvin of UCAR)

The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming is home to a powerful supercomputer on an ambitious agenda of experiments that will improve predictions of earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. The NCAR center is home to Yellowstone, a new 1.5-petaflop IBM supercomputer – enough power to place among the world’s top 20 supercomputers. The facility will include 24,000 square feet of raised floor data center space, with a 10-foot raised floor and 9-foot ceiling plenum to manage airflow required to cool the IT gear.


The data halls in the Facebook Rutherford County facility are packed with “triplet” racks, which house server designs that contain two servers on each sled. (Photo: Rich Miller)

Almost no data center operator has been more open about its technology than Facebook. The social network has published its hardware and data center designs through the Open Compute Project, and opened its data centers to journalists – including DCK, which got an inside look at the company’s North Carolina campus in November. Facebook has built two enormous data centers in Rutherford County, N.C. to power its growing Internet infrastructure. The two-story structures each span more than 300,000 square feet.

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