Google's data centers are where much of the magic happens. Within their walls, data is input, processed and output from billions of sources each day. The huge data centers take a full staff to keep up and running, from engineers and admins to developers and hardware technicians. Many Googlers who aren't integral to the operations of their main data center in Mountain View don't have the necessary security clearance to get in. Not only does developer advocate Sandeep Dinesh have that clearance, but he also brought a 360 degree video camera into the data center with him, toured the place and spoke to some of the staff to give the viewing public on YouTube a better look at how Google's data centers work.
The tour starts off at the gate, where Sandeep lets the viewer know that proper security clearance for the data center isn't something that every Googler gets. After getting through security, the first employee he chats with is Noah, a site reliability engineer. Noah and his team's role is to write and maintain the programs and backend for the data center. Noah goes on to explain that the data center software is actually made with failure in mind; in the event of losing a server or entire cluster, data is able to be migrated and workloads reassigned to keep the failure from affecting operations. After that, he takes a trip to the server room to show off Google's custom infrastructure and speak with Virginia, a network engineer. She points out that one data center building can host over 75,000 machines and up to a jaw-dropping 1 petabit per second of bandwidth.
The second half of the tour takes us to where used hard drives and solid state drives are destroyed. Sandeep explains that a "very strict chain of custody" is key to data security when drives are on their way to being decommissioned. After this, he goes to a mechanical equipment room to talk to Brian, a facilities technician in charge of keeping all of the equipment cool and running. Brian takes a minute to talk about how Google pushes overhead down to 12 percent for their data centers for optimum efficiency, then it's off to the roof to have a peek at one of the cooling towers that stores the water for the server cooling system. To cap it all off, Sandeep and Brian take us to Google's very own power substation that keeps the lights on for the whole operation. To have a look at the data center yourself, check out the video embedded below or, if you're packing Google Cardboard, use the YouTube app for the best experience. Of course, the 360 degree functionality works fine without Cardboard.