Google Turning Data Centers Into Works Of Art

The chances are good that you are a current user of Google's cloud computing platform, either directly via Android or Chromebook devices, or Google's products and services, or indirectly via a third party business using Google's cloud platform. Google operates and runs its cloud computing platform from fifteen data centers dotted around the world. These data centers represent the nerve centers of Google's infrastructure. Each contains arrays of servers, storage drives and kilometres of wiring keeping everything together. Data centers are not quite self sufficient but include canteens, emergency generators and recreation facilities. Each data center is unique with Google keen to re-purpose existing buildings, such as power stations, in order to convert them into data centers.

A typical data center is not going to be a particularly glamorous building: it will likely have dedicated infrastructure such as power and networking lines, plus cooling systems designed to keep temperatures down, but the building housing the technology is going to look ordinary. Google have decided to mix up four of their data centers by allowing a local artist to "beautify" the data centers by designing and painting a giant mural on the outside. The idea here is that it will allow the artist to add a human element to what is otherwise going to be a functional and boring building. The project also has the benefit of reminding people that these data centers are important buildings, too. Currently, Google has two datacenters dressed up in murals: one in Belgium and another in Mayes County, Oklahoma.

In Mayes County, artist Jenny Odell has designed a mural to represent "the flow of goods, power and information" by combining a mix of Google Maps satellite imagery. This imagery was melded together using Photoshop and a small team hand-painted the building. At St. Ghislain, site of the world's first "free cooling" data center on account of a plentiful supply of cooling water from local canals and what Google describes as a cold climate, a street artist called Obi-B has designed a colorful abstract mural. Oli-B has decided to portray "the cloud" from the perspective of the local community, employees and environment. Google has plans for two more data centers to gain murals, Dublin and County Bluff, and could roll out the project to include its other eleven data centers. Below is a gallery of images from the Google website, but there are a number of videos available on the Google blog website to show off the stunning artwork.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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