Google are big on cloud services. Their cloud technology is responsible for some of the clever features on our devices, such as how Google Now interprets our location, how it pulls information out of our recent searches and email correspondence, and of course how the voice recognition engine works – raw voice data is sent to the Google cloud platform, translated and sent back to us via the Internet. Google current operate twelve data centres around the world and are planning to convert a coal fired power station for the thirteenth data centre. By relying on Google’s cloud platform, businesses reduce and in many cases, eliminate the need for their own local server room and data warehouse. Google’s own information states that over five million businesses around the world have moved to their Google Apps cloud based system, including Woolworths, BBVA, Roche and PwC. And for those businesses, after their server rooms have been decommissioned and the last rack of servers removed, what does the business do this extra space?
To answer the question that has perhaps been burning in the minds of Woolworths, BBVA, Roche and PwC employees around the world, Google have teamed up with PDM International, an interior design consultancy, and have produced a small number of ideas as to how these rooms could be repurposed.
The first idea seems to fuse that of a nightclub karaoke bar with a pole dancing studio; from the disco ball suspended from the ceiling to the electric guitars hanging up on the wall, to the garish animal skin sofa, this is presumably the place for the cool kids of the office to hang out on their breaks. Or perhaps for some creative thinking time and space. The second proposal is perhaps just as noisy as it appears to be a gaming room, but instead of virtual reality headsets linked with Nexus 6 handsets, here the partnership with the interior designer has yielding a mix of a gym, a basketball court, a climbing wall and somewhere soft to fall into, with a pool complete with a rubber duck. It’s not clear how the pool is kept segregated from the basketball court or where the changing facilities might be located. The third design is altogether quieter. Perhaps too quiet and a little creepy as it shows a corporate scarecrow overlooking a pumpkin garden. I have expected Tim Cook’s face to be showing here. The wallpaper and foliage appear designed to create the illusion of being out in the country rather than in a windowless, air conditioned room buried somewhere in the office. We had better hope that the grass here is astroturf as things could get messy if it’s now kept trim.
The images carry the tagline, “The servers are gone. It’s time to reclaim the office.” It seems that Google were having a quiet day, but their point is that without the server room full of machines humming away, kept at a constant cool temperature, businesses have at least one more room (and presumably a lower electric bill).