About 650 invited guests gathered at the Google facility in Council Bluffs late Tuesday afternoon to mark its official opening. Chris Russell, manager of Google’s Council Bluffs Data Center, says construction of the facility began about two years ago.
"A data center is a place where Google locates all of its computers that run Google services — Google search, Gmail, Google maps," he says. "All of those services require computers behind them to make them run and a data center is where Google puts those things." Russell, though, is careful about disclosing details of the data center — like how many people are working there.
"I can’t say how many are right now," Russell says. "But we plan on having about 200 once we have it up and running and have it filled." Guests at Tuesday’s event, for example, were not allowed inside the facility to see how many computer servers or people were inside, for example.
"There are lots of competitors who’d like to know how we run a data center and would like to know the things we do to run a data center as efficiently as we do," Russell says, "and the number of employees is one of those metrics that they’re really interested in knowing." Google was founded in 1998 by two Stanford University students.
Today, there are Google operations in Europe and Asia as well as North America. The State of Iowa offered a package of incentives to lure Google to build in Council Bluffs, including a big break that means Google will not pay taxes on the electricity it buys to run the facility.
"There are lots of reasons that we came here including a great local base of employees, great power availability, good cost of living, the availability of network bandwidth," Russell says. Russell, who has settled in the Council Bluffs area, says he finds it "refreshing" to have a short commute to work.
Among the crowd of 650 who gathered outside the data center yesterday afternoon were about 200 local residents who entered an on-line drawing to get a chance to see the Google site.