Web giants are throwing the doors open to their data centers in a move that would look bizarre in most industries. This go round it's Google, which is showing off its Lenoir, NC data center.
While the Google data center tour is interesting, it's probably worth pondering the motives to being press friendly. Facebook, which opened its doors to our own Jack Clark recently, and Google depend on the following bonds with customers:
As a result, the customer needs to feel that the likes of Google and Facebook, which has been more open about its data center efforts of late, are technologically savvy and know what they are doing. Enter the stories about custom servers, how hard drives are destroyed, backup systems and 24/7 uptime. On the enterprise front, Google and Facebook are setting the data center pace and freezing out OEMs.
In other words, data centers are the competitive differentiator in the cloud. At this pace, Apple, which has to highlight its own cloud chops, may even open its doors. Microsoft is another one that could highlight its data centers to push its Azure services. Amazon is unlikely to open its data center doors---unless Google encroaches on Amazon Web Services somehow.
Enterprises have known for years that data centers are a competitive advantage. For companies like Google and Facebook and cloud providers, data center prowess is a selling point.
The upshot here is that data centers are likely to be popularized with the general public. In the not-to-distant future, tech giants everywhere will be yapping about their data centers.
Here's a quick tour of Google's data center, which is now on Street View.