Google uses World Class Photography to tell the Data Center Story

What goes on in the data center is a mystery to many.  We have all been in numerous data centers.  In general taking pictures is not allowed and you are left to explain what is going on with words.  What if you allow a world class photographer to tell your data center story?

Google took this approach using Connie Zhou as a photographer.  Photos allow one image to tell a story that can be interpreted many different ways. Yet, all these interpretations are truths.  Trying the equivalent in words.  One image can show how well organized a facility is, how well organized the facility is, and show a design approach used to solve design issue which accounts for up front costs and operating cost.

Google has a blog post on an inside look of its data centers.

Google’s data centers: an inside look

October 17, 2012
Very few people have stepped inside Google’s data centers, and for good reason: our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it, keeping our sites under close guard. While we’ve shared many of ourdesigns and best practices, and we’ve been publishing our efficiency data since 2008, only a small set of employees have access to the server floor itself. 

Today, for the first time, you can see inside our data centers and pay them a virtual visit. On Where the Internet lives, our new site featuring beautiful photographs byConnie Zhou, you’ll get a never-before-seen look at the technology, the people and the places that keep Google running. 


 If you are a person who likes words you can read Wired's Steven Levy article here, but even he starts out with a great picture.

Google Throws Open Doors to Its Top-Secret Data Center

Photo: Google/Connie Zhou

If you’re looking for the beating heart of the digital age — a physical location where the scope, grandeur, and geekiness of the kingdom of bits become manifest—you could do a lot worse than Lenoir, North Carolina. This rural city of 18,000 was once rife with furniture factories. Now it’s the home of a Google data center.

One of the pictures i like is this one.


If you click on the image, the story about the picture is told.

Denise Harwood

Hardware Operations

Surrounded by the deep blue lights of our servers, Denise Harwood diagnoses an overheated CPU. It's half of her job as a repair technician to help keep equipment up-and-running at all times. The other half is working on the data security team, making sure what goes into our centers is thoroughly protected. 

Denise discovered her Google job in a unique way. “It was through playing Dungeons and Dragons,” she says. While playing the game, she met a Google employee and discussed future work plans. “I had originally planned to get a degree in literature, but later changed my major to Computer Science,” she says. After graduating, she applied to our data center in The Dalles, Oregon, where she now works as part of a 150-person team.

If you want to read the words behind each image then click on the image.


Note not all the images have stories behind them.  The below is the Hamina data center's sea water cooling system.


One area that many would be concerned is data management, but you don't really want to open up the access doors to the tape back-up system and have HD staged to demonstration the crusher.  Showing these pictures is so much easier.