These aren't the server racks you're looking for.
Google, notoriously tight-lipped about the secrets locked away in its data centers, on Wednesday offered a rare glimpse inside those warehouses where information is processed for the company's vast network of web services. A newly launched site, Google Data Centers, lets users learn about eight centers located around the world, even offering 360-degree Street View images of the company's endless server racks and labyrinthian cooling systems in the Lenoir, NC, center.
But the company hasn't let its guard down completely.
Users who take the virtual tour of Lenoir will get a delightful geeky treat: a life-sized "Star Wars" stormtrooper can be seen standing guard at the end of a row of computers, as if to warn visitors that there's a powerful force (ha!) watching them while they explore.
Upon closer inspection, the trooper appears to be accompanied by a miniature R2D2. (Google, you old prankster, you.)
But seriously, folks, the company is extremely protective of its data processing hubs. Writes the AP, "Even as it allows anyone with a Web browser to peer into its data centers, Google intends to closely guard physical access to its buildings. The company also remains cagey about how many computers are in its data centers, saying only that they house hundreds of thousands of machines to run Google's services."
Google's guards is also up when nobody's watching. A video posted on the Data Center site reveals that when a hard drive stops functioning properly, all the data on the device is wiped and the unit is pulverized "for extra security."
Take a look at that video (below) to see more details from inside Google's centers.
But back to the fun and games! There are plenty more goodies scattered throughout the new Street View tour of the Lanoir data center, if you know where to look. Hacker News users have found an Android robot locked in a cage, an employee getting Rick Rolled on two separate computers simultaneously and much more.
[via Google Sightseeing]