Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft look North

As the search engines grow up and require more room, all eyes are pointed north. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are all reported to be constructing new data centers near the Oregon/ Washington border to better handle your constant demand for a faster, stronger Internet.

For Google, last week’s New York Times article unmasked yet another Google secret. The NYT used some crafty detective work (or just their eyes) to uncover Google’s super secret center of mass computing that is currently offline and being constructed in Oregon.

I can’t imagine it was hard to find for anyone actually looking. I mean, how would you hide a data center the size of two football fields with two four-story cooling plants in rural Oregon? I’m just saying, it sticks out.

Of course, even though its existence is now very public, Google remains tightlipped about the complex locally referred to as Project 02 (Did we miss Project 01?). In fact, the NYT reports local officials were forced to sign confidentially agreements with Google that prohibited them from speaking about Project 02.

According to one resident: “No one says the ‘G’ word. It’s a little bit like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in Harry Potter.”

You have to love the people of Oregon.

But Google’s not the only one growing and expanding. Microsoft and Yahoo are in the process of building big data centers 130 miles north of Google’s in Washington. The three powerhouses have been forced to build out their computer capabilities in order to keep up with users’ need for immediate results and bandwidth-eating features like video.

Why is the Oregon/ Washington border so popular, you ask? Because that’s where the region’s largest supply of fiber optic cables are located. Plus, electricity is cheaper, the nearby river provides plenty of water for cooling, there’s ample room to grow and it’s the perfect backdrop for a made-for-TV movie about a tight-lipped search engine on its way to world domination. No, really.

Honestly, the most fascinating part of the NYT article was the mention that Google uses Velcro to hold its processors in place to allow for easy swapping. Hold on! The heart of this trillion dollar company is being held together with the same material a first grader uses to ‘tie’ his shoes? Seriously? I guess it’s better, and less messy, than duct tape.

In other relocation news: Yahoo! Search Marketing has outgrown its current location in Pasadena and will be making the twenty mile or so hike to Burbank to achieve a more “campus-like” feel. Hmm, maybe they should move on up to Mountain View. I hear there’s plenty of campus-like feeling going on over there.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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