Google to build mobile server bank at sea?

Tuesday 29 October 2013

News broke last week that Google, the internet search engine giant, may be building a floating bank of mobile servers that travels the high seas.

The news came after some very impressive sleuthing from CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman who traced rumours and found a number of pieces of supporting evidence that led him to the conclusion that Google may be building the floating server farm.

Before exploring the evidence it is worth stressing the word “may,” with Google at this time neither confirming nor denying the existence of the floating data centre.

One of Terdiman’s main leads was an estate agent he traced through leasing records.  When he explored the mysterious estate agent further he found that his Linkedin profile stated that he worked for Google, but when the story broke his profile was quickly amended to remove all mention of Google.

The leasing records led to a boat that is floating near Treasure Island right in the middle of San Francisco Bay.  Further investigations by Terdiman uncovered a patent that Google own, dating back to 2009 for a floating data centre that supports the idea that this is what they are building now.

Many IT companies have long been putting servers and data centres within shipping containers so it is possible that Google sees the barge as a logical next step.  A number of IT experts said one advantage of placing the servers on a boat was the ready supply of cold water that would provide excellent cooling for the heat-intensive equipment.

Even with all of this evidence, many commentators think that a floating data centre is a little far-fetched, but as Google is well known for investing in unlikely projects such as a self-driving car and its new flagship project Google Glass (which many people didn’t believe had a place on the market), it is not so unbelievable that the company would build the floating server farm, maybe to help bring the technology to undeveloped parts of the world.

There is an alternate theory about the barge that suggests it is a mobile marketing platform for Google, similar to Apple stores, to promote and sell Google Glass.

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