MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Google opened its first data center in The Dalles, Oregon, seven years ago. Since then, the company has spent billions rolling out new state-of-the art server farms on four continents. It’s been an incredible building binge, and the company has no idea when it’s going to stop.
According to the guy who’s been in charge of Google’s servers for nearly 15 years now, the company has five-year data projections about how much capacity it will need, but he doesn’t put much stock in them. “We don’t believe our own numbers. The error bar is just too high,” says Urs Hölzle, Google’s Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure. “Five years ago, you basically didn’t have an iPhone, you didn’t have app markets. YouTube was much smaller. Facebook basically didn’t exist… It was just a radically different world. So who am I to say that I can know how the world five years from now is going to be radically different? I kind of know it is going to be, but I can’t tell you which ways.”
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