Inside Ten of the World’s Largest Data Centers

Data centers touch all our lives. Businesses rely on data centers to house mission critical information and run operational initiatives across the organization.Today’s largest data centers feature state-of-the-art technology, operation rooms spanning thousands of square meters, and are required to hold billions of pieces of customer and business information. As demand for cloud services increase these centers comprise tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of servers, multi-petabyte storage systems and increasingly are situated in locations where cheap energy is plentiful.

In pictures, here is an inside look at ten of the world’s largest data centers.

Microsoft’s Quincy Washington Data Center

The recent NY Times data center technology slideshow illustrates in photographs just how impressive data centers are and how important they are to our day-to-day lives.

As servers become more powerful, more kilowatts are needed to run and cool them. Data centers worldwide now consume more energy annually than Sweden.


(Photo: Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)
Microsoft’s Quincy Washington data center can store up to 6.75 trillion photos.

NJ2 in Weehawken, N.J.


(Photo: Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)
Inside NJ2, in New Jersey. Attention is now shifting to making servers less energy intensive and to spurring innovation in the design and form of the data center itself. (Image Source)

IBM Green Data Center

IBM's Green Data Center
IBM operates eight million square feet of data center space on six continents. Through the company’s green data center initiatives, they expect to save more than five billion kilowatt hours per year with energy efficient products and services. View the entire photo gallery on Flickr.

The Tokyo Data Center

Entrance to the Tokyo Data Center
Japan’s Internet backbone. This is the largest data center in the world (or so they claim). This photo shows the entrance to the facility. (Image Source)

HDS Yokohama Green Data Center

Hitachi Green Data Center Model
(Image Gallery on Flickr)
Launched in August 2009, the HDS data center in Yokohama operates with 10,000 square meters of total floor space. Via press release, this green facility incorporates power-efficient data center technology designed to achieve a benchmarking rating of 1.6 PUE.

Microsoft’s Chicago Data Center

Microsoft's Chicago Data Center
Opened in late 2009, the first phase of development includes the ground floor designed to hold up to 56 containers, each filled with anywhere from 1,800 to 2,500 servers. (Source)

Inside Facebook’s Data Center

Inside Facebook's Data Center
Facebook’s data centers store more than 40 billion photos, and users upload 40 million new photos each day – about 2,000 photos every second. Via Data Center Knowledge, “Not surprisingly, the racks are packed.”

1&1′s Data Center

1&1's Data Center
Via InformationWeek, 1&1′s data center is in Lenexa, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, the second largest railroad hub in the U.S. Five server rooms hold 860 racks and can accommodate at least 40,000 servers.

Inside a Google Data Center


Awarded a patent on a portable data center modeling in October 2008, Google’s data center features a “container hanger” filled with 45 containers, holding up to 1,160 servers each, and uses 250 kilowatts of power. Referred to as Data Center A, it spans 75,000 square feet and has a power capacity of 10 megawatts. (Information courtesy of Data Center Knowledge)

San Diego Supercomputing Center


Via NetworkWorld, San Diego Supercomputing Center’s new building features cool concrete exteriors, special windows treatments and windows that actually open. This image illustrates how by using robotic virtual tape libraries, SDSC is able to reduce energy costs.

Building a Data Center in 26 Weeks

Digital Realty Trust Data Center Project
Digital Realty Trust builds data center facilities all over the world. This photo gallery on Flickr provides a look at its data center construction process for their site located at 1201 Comstock in Santa Clara, California.

Who are we missing? Surely companies like Amazon and eBay should be on this list, though we had trouble verifying the authenticity of data center images found online. We’d love to hear about data center images and links we missed via the comments below or send Wikibon a message on Twitter!

Update – March 26, 2010

This came in from the back channel.

Recovery Point’s Multiple Miles of Chiller System Feeds

Miles of Chiller System Feeds

This is a shot of some of the miles of chiller system feeds that sit under the raised floor of a Recovery Point data center used to host dense blade servers. The design and construction has achieved Uptime Institute’s Tier III level certification and provides a redundant and  concurrently maintainable infrastructure. This means that the servers never have to come down for maintenance,  and the infrastructure can be maintained while the chillers are still running.

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