Looking Back: Google's First Data Center

Google's massive global network had a humble start in 1999 in a small cage inside an Exodus data center in Santa Clara. Urs Hölzle and Sergey Brin share reminiscences.

Rich Miller

February 5, 2014

1 Min Read
Looking Back: Google's First Data Center

Fifteen years ago, Urs Hölzle had his first visit to a data center. Accompanied by Google co-founder Larry Page, Hölzle took a trip inside an Exodus Communications facility in Santa Clara, where the search engine had set up its first cage of equipment. Hölzle, who helped build Google's huge global data center network, shares about those humble beginnings over at Google+.

"You couldn't really 'set foot' in the first Google cage because it was tiny (7'x4', 2.5 sqm) and filled with about 30 PCs on shelves," Urs writes. "A1 through a24 were the main servers to build and serve the index and c1 through c4 were the crawl machines."

Google co-founder Sergey Brin adds some detail in the comments: "We improvised our own external cases for the main storage drives including our own improvised ribbon cable to connect 7 drives at a time per machine," Brin writes. "Of course, there is a reason people don't normally use ribbon cables externally and ours got clipped on the edge while we ferried these contraptions into the cage. So late that night, desperate to get the machines up and running, Larry did a little miracle surgery to the cable with a twist tie. Incredibly it worked!"

There's also an Exodus invoice for that first cage. Read the full post at Google+.

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