Sunday, November 17, 2013

Google’s Clever Ploy – The Mystery of the Two Barges

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is one of the largest data users in the world. It created a viral storm when news broke that the search giant was rumored to build a floating data center on a barge in the San Francisco Bay. A similar structure was recently constructed on a barge in Portland barge. Both barges are registered to the By And Large LCC shell company.

It was pointed out that the structures would be consistent with Google’s patent for building offshore data centers. That patent was filed in 2008 and granted in 2009. It describes a data center on a ship that is perpetually powered by ocean currents and uses sea water to cool the servers.

Locating its servers on barges would have several benefits:
  • Since regulating temperature is one of the major costs in maintaining a data center, using the ocean would enable significant cost savings
  • Using the ocean current for power would reduce electricity use 
  • Overall data storage costs would be lower
  • Once the barges are in international waters, they are out of US jurisdiction and cannot be touched by the NSA
  • It make Google look cool, which is good for branding
But not everybody believed that the San Francisco Bay structure is a data center, but rather a secret marketing barge to promote Google Glass. According to this theory, Google stopped building since it doesn't have the necessary permits to park the barge at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.

The Mountain View-based conglomerate finally broke its silence. It announced that the barge is a technology exhibition space. During the next two years, Google will move the barge between several piers in the San Francisco Bay area and other West coast locations. The floating structures are constructed from stacked shipping containers that provide 13,276 square foot of studio space. The structure will also feature a rooftop deck and catwalks, with technology demonstrations on the second and third floors. The opening hours will be from 10am to 10pm.

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