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October 19, 2010

Google casually reveals surprising hike in data centre investment

Google is spending heavily on data centres. Gary Flood looks at what that may mean for future investments

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Buried – not in a particularly hard way, mind – in search and operating system giant Google’s third quarter results is a somewhat startling factoid; the amount of money it’s throwing into building out its global data centre farm hit its highest mark since early 2008 – $757m. (Note for Microsoft employees or followers; Google is the Bad Thing that Bing will one day replace. That’s all you need to know for now, chill out.)

That’s the second highest listed amount for such outlay since that very three quarter period’s $842m, no less. It’s no secret that Google is building data centres. Indeed, it’s gone on record as saying it wants hundreds if not thousands of such.

What is secret is the details. Thus, we know that it’s transforming a vast decayed Finnish former paper mill into just such, by its account making it no less than the first DC chilled just with nice cold Baltic sea water. If so, this would be in line with other innovative data centre power consumption cooling approaches, e.g. one of its Belgian centres is cooled only using ambient air, and so on.

The interest in the $760m datum is that for conspiracy theorists and the IT equivalent of black helicopter types it "proves" how the firm is building a global network to capture "all our personal details" – and for the rest of us, shows the strength in depth of this company and how deep its pockets are. (Some may say there’s about a cigarette paper difference between the two perspectives, natch.)

We do know that Google has just under 40 data centres now, build on the modular design, and that it wants to build more. We also know that as a public company it tells the Street what it has to, so we can also gauge how up and down this process has been. For instance, post that massive $842m (Jan-Mar 2008), as the US economy hit the hot and smellies, its build work dropped to just $139m in the second quarter of 2009, recovering to $476m before this quarter just reported (i.e. its Q2).

But now it’s jumped back up, by quite a hike, no less than 60% quarter on quarter – and some are speculating it’s had to ramp up its back end considerably to provide the firepower for its ‘Instant’ service (the one that gets results as you type, like a sort of annoying version of the paperclip thing [note to Google fanatics; that’s a horrid thing in the Old Company Way of word processing, not in our lovely Google Docs]).

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I say: well done Google, I am sure you are spending all that ad money very well. Basically, the future belongs to data centre builders after all (final note to Microsofties; that’s you too, as you will soon be one of the biggest such in the world and even more rich than you are now). And if Google can build them in funky old buildings and not cost the (figurative) Earth doing it; good on ’em.

Now, let me tell you how this all links to 9/11 [rest of blog deleted as nonsensical by editor].

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