How do Google data centers compare with your IT infrastructure?

Enterprise data centers can pick up some ideas from Google to run IT infrastructure that supports business innovation and cloud-connected consumers.

How Google-like is your data center? How enterprise-like is Google? The answer to both is "not very," though there are overlaps and lessons to be learned.

"There's a lot of myth about Google data centers, with everything in-house and everything custom for them and secrets galore," said Joe Skorupa, a Gartner Inc. distinguished analyst, during his session at the Gartner IT Operations & Management Summit 2014 in Orlando, Florida this month.

Google uses familiar enterprise systems, like Oracle databases, to keep the back office running. If Google can take a page from the enterprise book, perhaps the enterprise can take a page from Google's playbook.

If IT is your business or if you're digitally focused even though your product is not IT services, you should bring Google's principles into the data center.

If you adopt these principles of commodity infrastructure and automated processes, and of being free to fail occasionally, IT can invest more in supporting what makes the company money, not simply keeping the back office running at the least cost.

To get serious about emulating Web-scale IT companies, start asking questions:

How important is IT? How autonomous is IT? Can you experiment and fast-fail if the experiment isn't working? Do you invest in rapid-fire new IT projects?

This was last published in July 2014

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Where does your data center match up with Google?
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Another difference? Google's old servers end up in the Museum of Natural History. Check out this corkboard server from the early days http://americanhistory.si.edu/press/fact-sheets/google-corkboard-server-1999
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