It seems strange to consider that something that has such a massive impact on all our lives and that many of us rely on both in business and at home almost every day, we actually never get to see let alone touch. Here is something that no-one owns outright, although many seek to control; I’m talking about, of course, the internet.
Often heavily criticised for over influencing the overall direction of websites and the World Wide Web, Internet leviathan Google has released some fascinating images of its top-secret data and server centres. Whilst this is clearly a well calculated PR move to try to remove the stigma of secrecy that surrounds the frighteningly powerful company, this may just be the best chance many of us will ever get to see where the internet lives.
Whilst Google clearly isn’t the only company that controls or manages huge amounts of internet traffic and search data, their multi-billion-dollar infrastructure does allow the company to index 20 billion web pages a day, to handle more than 3 billion daily search queries from every corner of the planet as well as offering free email and online storage to some 425 million people.
Up until recently very little information about Google’s infrastructure publicly existed. The company has remained tight lipped about the location and specification of its servers and network since its inception 14 years ago because it believes it to be part of its ‘competitive advantage’. It’s common knowledge within the company that only a few highly regarded and long serving employees get to fully understand the massive and complex system of interlinked servers and fibre, let alone get to actually touch and work on it.
What is clear is that Google has spread its infrastructure across a global labyrinth of massive buildings – a dozen or so information fortresses in places as diverse as St. Ghislain, Belgium, Council Bluffs, Iowa and coming online soon Hong Kong and Singapore. Here an unspecified but clearly vast number of machines process and offer up the continuing chronicle of human experience and existence.