As Android fans, we use a lot of Google services - Gmail, search, maps, YouTube videos, you name it. Ever wonder where all those queries go? Well, recently Google allowed some press into one of their data centers to give the full tour. Beyond that, they've posted an astounding photo gallery from data centers all around the world, showcasing the fine people and extensive facilities that make Google services a reality. They've done it all in such a classy way that even those of us that aren't IT professionals can start to appreciate the complexity, beauty, and scale of the whole operation.
Google made a point to highlight their water cooling system, which is more environmentally friendly than air conditioning. Though they still rely on local electrical providers, Google's working towards the use of more renewable energy. Privacy was also a high priority, with their video emphasizing security and their extensive data destruction techniques. Everything is doubly backed up, and done in triplicate with data tapes for the particularly important stuff.
Using Google services on a day-to-day basis as a normal consumer makes it all feel fairly nebulous and, y'know, cloud-like, but Google is made of real people in big buildings with lots of machines and miles of wires; pictures like these really drive that point home. Be sure to read the Wired and CBS articles for their impressions of the tour, or check it all out for yourself through Street View.