Is Your Cloud in the San Francisco Bay?

Google floating data center bargeIt looks like Google is up to something in the San Francisco Bay, and rumors are, it’s a floating data center — perhaps built to use sea water cooling units to maintain temperature control in the four-story data center. Theoretically the sea could be used as a power source as well. Pretty cool stuff!

According to an article in Cnet,  the barge has been built over the past year in a hangar on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. In 2009 Google was granted a patent for a “Water Based Data Center” and then granted another patent for their floating data center project in 2010.  The specific cooling mechanism is detailed in the patent application:

“A method of maintaining a computer data center located on a floating structure, comprising: drawing in cooling water from a sub-surface area of an open natural body of water; pumping the cooling water through a first side of a first liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger; circulating a first portion of liquid from a computer data center through a second side of the first liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger and to one or more cooling units at the computer data center, such that heat is transferred from the first portion of liquid to the cooling water as the first portion of liquid passes through the second side of the first liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger; circulating the cooling water from the first liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger to one or more cooling towers; and evaporating at least a portion of the cooling water in the one or more cooling towers.”

Why would Google build a floating data center? Power and cooling in large data centers represent two of the biggest costs of running and managing a data center. In addition, a company like Google can have a big environmental impact by cooling and powering their data centers with seawater. We have some experience with helping companies to manage the cost and size of their data centers, by reducing the costs of secondary data centers built for data recovery. At Zerto, we help companies to:

a) get their replication and recovery to the Cloud, thereby eliminating the costs of a secondary data center altogether and,

b) significantly reduce the costs of their secondary data center by helping companies reduce their storage footprint. For HAPO Community Credit Union, we helped reduce storage by 43%  and eliminated their need to purchase storage for the foreseeable future.

Others have speculated that the floating barge is an “Apple store-like marketing center for Google Glass” but that doesn’t seem nearly as cool.

Hat tip to Wes Schifone for pointing this out!

(Photo: James Martin CNET/CBS Interactive)

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