Actually, it’s no surprise that Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google are laying out big bucks to expand their infrastructures to support online services, but John Markoff and Saul Hansell put a down-to-earth face on it at the New York Times:
THE DALLES, Ore., – On the banks of the windswept Columbia River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky.
The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other Internet services.
And odd as it may seem, the barren desert land surrounding the Columbia along the Oregon-Washington border — at the intersection of cheap electricity and readily accessible data networking — is the backdrop for a multibillion-dollar face-off among Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that will determine dominance in the online world in the years ahead.
Microsoft and Yahoo have announced that they are building big data centers upstream in Wenatchee and Quincy, Wash., 130 miles to the north. But it is a race in which they are playing catch-up. Google remains far ahead in the global data-center race, and the scale of its complex here is evidence of its extraordinary ambition.
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are spending vast sums of capital to build out their computing capabilities to run both search engines and a variety of Web services that encompass e-mail, video and music downloads and online commerce.
Microsoft stunned analysts last quarter when it announced that it would spend an unanticipated $2 billion next year, much of it in an effort to catch up with Google. Google said its own capital expenditures would run to at least $1.5 billion. Its center here, whose cost is undisclosed, shows what that money is meant to buy.
Much more by following the link. These data center construction stories have been popping up quite frequently lately – here’s one on Microsoft’s Quincy, Washington data center and one on a Microsoft exploration party looking for a site in Texas. Undoubtedly, there will be more to come.