Blogging For Technology: Google’s Not-So-Secret Data Center In San Francisco Bay

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Since October 2013, speculation about the Google-owned barge floating in San Francisco Bay, off Treasure Island has taken on a life of its own. Is this barge Google’s not-so-secret floating data center? That is the most common question asked about this mysterious, four-story barge.

According to CNBC News, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that Google owned the barge, but they were not able to discuss it further due to a confidentiality agreement with Google.

Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas McKenzie, a Coast Guard representative, told CNBC, “We can confirm that Google is involved or associated with the barge, but there is a nondisclosure agreement in effect; the Coast Guard is unable to discuss or divulge any further details at this time.”

Google filed for a patent in February 2007 for a floating data center, so it is certainly feasible that the Google’s barge is just that.

Data Center Power Consumption

Operating a data center consumes a significant amount of electricity for generating power and operating cooling equipment. This electricity consumption is a major financial burden on data center facilities. If Google is constructing a floating data center, this could solve their electrical costs by using ocean water for cooling and generating power. According to Google’s patent, they would implement Pelamis Wave Energy Converter units, which use the ocean waves to generate electrical power.

More Practical Energy Saving Methods

Even if Google is constructing a floating data center that produces low-cost power, that does not help most businesses that use data centers. More practical energy-saving alternatives for businesses include data center cold and hot aisle containment systems.

Cold Aisle Containment – Cold Aisle Containment is the most common form of data center cooling for existing businesses. This system confines the cool air in the aisle where equipment is cooled. The cold air cannot escape from the containment system. Many existing businesses prefer Cold Aisle Containment because it causes less disruption to the current structure and has layout flexibility.

Hot Aisle Containment – Newly constructed data center facilities are taking advantage of Hot Aisle Containment systems that isolate hot exhaust air as it returns to CRAC units or leaves the building. This innovative system of cooling data is energy efficient, has balanced airflow, and provides cool air workspace for user comfort and complies with OSHA regulations.

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