Where is Google's Next Data Center presence in Africa after Kenya?

I've been waiting for when there would be some news worth writing about Africa.  It's been at least 3 years when I told some of my clients to think about Africa for data center development.  With Google's Renewable Energy investment in Kenya covered in Wired there is finally some news from one of the big data center players.

GOOGLE IS BACKING Africa’s largest wind power project, two years after investing $12 million in the continent’s largest solar power project.

This morning, at a conference in Washington, D.C., the tech giant announced its support for the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in northern Kenya, a project that could provide enough clean energy to power 2 million homes, representing about 15 percent of the capacity of the country’s power grid. The average wind speed at Lake Turkana is almost 25 mph, according to Google.

The move is Google’s 22nd investment in clean energy infrastructure, spanning a total of 2.5 gigawatts of power and more than $2 billion. Most of the company’s investment has been in the US, but Rick Needham, a Google director of energy and sustainability, says the company wants to promote clean energy in the developing world. “The fastest growing economies are here, and there’s a strong need for critical power,” he says of places like Kenya. “Economies are being held back because they don’t have enough power—and yet they have wonderful renewable resources. These nations can meet their future and growing energy needs by tapping into some of the best renewable resources in the world.”

When you look at a submarine cable you can see how Africa is a key position and there is an emerging market.

Google has made an investment in renewable energy which in all probability means a data center presence in Kenya, but to cover Africa with only one data center location does not make any sense. 

Where is Google's next data center location in Africa? 

Google will expand Georgia data center 808,355 sq ft by end of 2016

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports on the size of Google's data center expansion.  The article proudly says they have an update on the size, but my friends who work on data centers would want to know how much power.

I would guess 600,000 sq ft is white space multiple by 125 watts/sq ft and you get 75MW. That seems about right for a Google project.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) said last month it will invest in a $300 million expansion of its Lithia Springs, Ga., data center. The company, however, did not disclose details about the size of the expansion.
A public filing on July 9 revealed Google’s plans to build a mammoth 808,355-square-foot data center at the site. The expansion will include a four-story data center and auxillary structures.

Google's Alabama DC has 198 posts with one post talking to Urs Hölzle and Joe Kava

Google yesterday announced its new Alabama DC and coverage is significant with 198 posts.

Google has been expanding capacity in LATAM, EU, and APAC for years since it has made a land purchase in the US.  When you look at the location of the Jackson County Alabama DC in the middle of the cluster of 5 existing facilities I would place bets that Google could build more at this one site than any other.  How big?  The Alabama site originally had 8 coal fired units.  The last one produced 460MW.  Times 8 that is almost 4GW of power transmission infrastructure and water to cool down the plant.

The official Google post is here.  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-power-plant-for-internet-our-newest.html

What is not in the Google post are some quotes from Google's Urs Hoelzle and Joe Kava which the NYTimes covered.  http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/google-to-open-new-data-center-in-alabama/

Urs says...

“Data centers are attractive customers” to power suppliers, said Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure. In turn, he said, “bringing in alternative power was important to us.”

“In the next 12 months, we will look at plausible projects,” he said. While wind power appears to be the furthest along in producing energy cheaply, he noted that Google had already done a solar energy project in South Africa.

Joe says

“We are looking to do a similar type of approach as Finland” in Alabama, said Joe Kava, who leads data center construction at Google. Like many Google sites, he said, Alabama will be “a campus model with multiple buildings.”

Google appears to be on something of a construction binge, with data center expansions in the United States, Singapore, and Belgium just over the last few months. This may be partly because of demand, and partly to risk management on Google’s part. By having several construction projects underway, Mr. Kava said, the chances of a shortfall in overall capacity from a slowdown at one project were minimized.

The Alabama site could be the biggest Google data center location until they buy a bigger one.

Where will Spanish Language News grow as Google News shuts down in Spain?

Spain's government has implemented a Google Tax on Google News and Google on Dec 16th will be shutting down its news.google.es site.

But sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.
— http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.com/2014/12/an-update-on-google-news-in-spain.html

Media like the Washington Post cover the news of Google News shutting down.

Earlier this year, Spain passed a rather egregious amendment to its copyright law (to take effect in the New Year), purportedly as some kind of anti-piracy move, but more aptly called the “Google tax” by some observers. The law gives Internet publishers a right to compensation for the use of “snippets” of their content by news aggregator sites (like Google News). And not just a right to compensation: an inalienable right to compensation, one that publishers cannot waive or bargain away (in return, say, for being included in the new aggregator listings).
— http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/12/11/google-news-to-move-out-of-spain/

Out of curiosity I looked up what % of the spanish speaking population is in Spain.  11%.  Mexico has over twice the spanish speaking population than Spain and could take up the slack of Spanish news that disappears from Google News.  Columbia and Argentina are close to Spain.

So it is quite possible that Spain disappearing from Google News will be something that will be a non event to most and the biggest impact is in Spain.  Seems like it would be easy for Spain users who want to still use Google News in Spanish to switch from news.google.es to something like Mexico http://news.google.com.mx/

Mexico De facto[3] 120,286,655 Academia Mexicana de la Lengua Mexican Spanish
Spain De jure[4] 47,737,941 Real Academia Española Peninsular Spanish
Colombia De jure[5] 46,245,297 Academia Colombiana de la Lengua Colombian Spanish
Argentina De facto[6] 43,024,374 Academia Argentina de Letras Rioplatense Spanish
Peru De jure[7] 30,147,935 Academia Peruana de la Lengua Peruvian Coast Spanish
Venezuela De jure[8] 28,868,486 Academia Venezolana de la Lengua Venezuelan Spanish
Chile De facto[9] 17,363,894 Academia Chilena de la Lengua Chilean Spanish
Ecuador De jure[10] 15,654,411 Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua Ecuadorian Spanish
Guatemala De jure[11] 14,647,083 Academia Guatemalteca de la Lengua Guatemalan Spanish
Cuba De jure[12] 11,047,251 Academia Cubana de la Lengua Cuban Spanish
— http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_where_Spanish_is_an_official_language

The Cloud Battle, A War to Sell Data Center Bits - Amazon, Google, Microsoft

This time of year is turning into a Cloud Battle, a war between Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to deliver bits as a service from data centers. iPhone vs. Android is a battle of mobile bits.  OS X vs. Windows 7/8/10 is a battle of desktop bits.  The Cloud is a battle to deliver bits as a service from data centers.

Microsoft had their cloud, and Google just finished theirs.  Next week is AWS Reinvent.  The media covers the battles.

Google's Newest Attack On Amazon

When I read so many of the media articles though I think they are focused on how big fleet is or the latest technology.  Huh?  Like this article makes the point of measuring the naval power by the tonnage of the fleet misses the point.

Measuring Naval Power: Bigger Ain’t Always Better


Navies were largely symmetrical in those thrilling days of yesteryear. That simplified matters. Size was a decent proxy for fighting power when battle fleets made up largely of capital ships bearing big guns squared off. That was before the era — an era that persists to this day — when small craft could carry armament comparable to that of capital ships. A destroyer couldn’t tote big guns back then. A lowly missile boat or sub can fire munitions comparable to those of a capital ship today — and to the same deadly effect.

I have got a chance to close hand see how executives at Google (Urs Hoelzle), Amazon (Werner Vogel), and Microsoft (Scott Guthrie) perform at Gigaom Structure on stage and behind.  It’s kind of like seeing the Generals/Admirals of the military.

This is not a simple battle where more servers and more MW of data center capacity win the war.  How well your team operates using the technology which in the case of the bits (software) was created by other team members is so important.

I think I could write a whole book on the battles between between Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. In fact, I am sure there is someone who has already made a book proposal for this.  Unfortunately or fortunately, I am too busy working on other things to document things in an entertaining way to sell a book.  What I can do is watch as an observer to see strategies being played.

The Cloud Battle may be one of the most interesting technology wars fought with billions of dollars of data centers and IT equipment and 10,000s of development staff, reaching around the world.

Below is Google’s Points of Presence.


Oh, one point I do want to make that I forgot is.  Just like Sun Tzu the Art of War Point 18.  “All warfare is based on deception”  The good know how to deceive the enemy and they can use the media to spread the deception.  Don’t believe everything you read.

18. All warfare is based on deception.