Google Building a Gaggle of Data Centers

Robert Cringely write about Google building data centers in South Carolina, and buying up access rights to lots and lots of fibre. An article well worth reading, though I have comments on some of the conclusions:

I think Google is building for a future they see but most of the rest of us don’t.

I am sure that Google has a vision for the future, but I am also sure that they are opportunistic and pragmatic, adjusting that vision as the internet develops. Building data centers and buying up fiber rights allows them to have an infrastructure on which to build whatever develops. And whatever develops depends on what people what to use.

It is becoming very obvious what will happen over the next two to three years. More and more of us will be downloading movies and television shows over the net and with that our usage patterns will change.

This is really clear to me, as more and more bandwidth becomes available, new services and usage patterns will develop. In fact this is true if you take anything that is in short supply and make it available in large quantities cheaply.

Instead of using 1-3 gigabytes per month … we’ll go to 1-3 gigabytes per DAY … a huge backbone burden on ISPs. Those ISPs will be faced with the option of increasing their backbone connections by 30X, which would kill all profits, OR they could accept a peering arrangement with the local Google data center.

I think this is speculative. I can see lots of good reasons for Google to build data centers across the country, decentralization is good for redundancy, it also allows them to get to cheap power which is really important when you have the needs they do, it also allows them to reduce latency to the consumer. Buying up fiber rights allows them access to bandwidth when they need it, better to have spare capacity that is instantly available than no spare capacity if you can afford it.

Greg Linden also has some thoughts about this.


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