Google may utilize some of the largest and most sophisticated data centers in the world today, but that wasn’t always the case. When the company was just getting started 15 years ago, Google operated out of a tiny server room at the Exodus data center in Santa Clara, California.
The data center was one of the first collocation facilities in Silicon Valley. Coincidentally enough, they were just down the hall from AltaVista, once the world’s most popular search engine. Their direct neighbor in the facility was eBay.
Operating in such a facility wasn’t cheap but Google was able to manage. They talked their way into some favorable pricing since most of their traffic was “incoming” instead of outbound. The early team also improvised their own external cases for the main storage drives which included an improvised ribbon cable to connect seven drives at once.
And if something went down, co-founder Larry Page would roll up his sleeves and fix it himself. One such instance took place when they were moving computers into their cage and a ribbon cable was damaged. Desperate to get up and running, Page managed to repair the cable that night using a twist tie.
It’s all irrelevant now but it shows you just how far the company has come and adds a bit of a human touch to the whole story. Google started out just as millions of others do: with a vision and very little money.