Re: Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power


> The New York Times > June 14, 2006 > THE DALLES, Ore., June 8 -- On the banks of the windswept Columbia > River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate > the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a > secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, > with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky. > The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a > substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling > billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other > Internet services. > And odd as it may seem, the barren desert land surrounding the > Columbia along the Oregon-Washington border - at the intersection of > cheap electricity and readily accessible data networking - is the > backdrop for a multibillion-dollar face-off among Google, Microsoft > and Yahoo that will determine dominance in the online world in the > years ahead. > Microsoft and Yahoo have announced that they are building big data > centers upstream in Wenatchee and Quincy, Wash., 130 miles to the > north. But it is a race in which they are playing catch-up. Google > remains far ahead in the global data-center race, and the scale of its > complex here is evidence of its extraordinary ambition. > Even before the Oregon center comes online, Google has lashed together > a global network of computers -- known in the industry as the > Googleplex -- that is a singular achievement. "Google has constructed > the biggest computer in the world, and it's a hidden asset," said > Danny Hillis, a supercomputing pioneer and a founder of Applied Minds, > a technology consulting firm, referring to the Googleplex. > The design and even the nature of the Google center in this industrial > and agricultural outpost 80 miles east of Portland has been a closely > guarded corporate secret. "Companies are historically sensitive about > where their operational infrastructure is," acknowledged Urs Holzle, > Google's senior vice president for operations. > Behind the curtain of secrecy, the two buildings here -- and a third > that Google has a permit to build -- will probably house tens of > thousands of inexpensive processors and disks, held together with > Velcro tape in a Google practice that makes for easy swapping of > components. The cooling plants are essential because of the searing > heat produced by so much computing power. > The complex will tap into the region's large surplus of fiber optic > networking, a legacy of the dot-com boom. > The fact that Google is behind the data center, referred to locally as > Project 02, has been reported in the local press. But many officials > in The Dalles, including the city attorney and the city manager, said > they could not comment on the project because they signed > confidentiality agreements with Google last year. >

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