November 23, 2010

Google To Expand Berkeley Site

Katy Stech  /  Post and Cuurier

Internet search gian to finish second building on campus as it runs of storage space

Google Inc. is running out of space to store virtual bits of information, prompting them to send construction crews back to its Berkeley County data center campus next year.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search giant built two large boxy warehouses – both meant to store data such as Gmail messages, Picasa photographs and detailed Google Maps street-view images – at its 500-acre site near Goose Creek.

Digital data began surging into the first center's servers in 2008, but company officials left the second building empty.

"(Our) timeline wasn't always clear and was dependent on demand for server capacity," spokesman Matt Dunne said. "We felt we didn't have the demand for that server capacity" when the first building opened.

Now, Google senses an impending shortage. Its plan to finish the second Berkeley County building was announced as they revealed plans for another data center in North Carolina.

Earlier this year, it moved forward on a once-stalled project in Oklahoma.

Other major companies plan to open a string of additional data centers, keeping up with consumers who are increasingly storing

more virtual data at faraway sites instead of their home computers.

Facebook Inc. announced earlier this month it will build a $450 million data center with up to 45 workers near Charlotte. North Carolina has captured multi-million dollar data center sites from companies such as Apple Inc., Google Inc. and IBM Corp.

Sometime during the first half of next year, Google's technology engineers will return to the site in Mount Holly Commerce park off U.S. Highway 52 to install hardware, wiring and other electronic components inside the completed building shell, Dunne said. Work is expected to be completed by 2012.

Though it's a publicly traded company, Google is notoriously guarded about its business operations. Dunne wouldn't say how many employees report to work at the existing site, nor would he say how "full" the existing operating data center is with virtual data.

Company officials backed away from a generous package of state incentives, including a per-employee tax credit and $2.5 million to spend on site improvements, suggesting that the company hadn't reached the 200-worker employment threshold it once promised. Company officials did accept property tax breaks from Berkeley County officials.

Dunne said it would need to hire more employees to help run the expanded site: keeping electricity flowing, fixing broken data server machines and maintaining water pipes that circulate water to cool the machinery.