It’s hard to get much insight into how Google goes about choosing locations for its data centers and negotiating deals. Usually, the company seals the lips of everyone involved with non-disclosure agreements. But in the wake of the search giant’s most recent deal to build a center in Pryor, Oklahoma – for which Google’s chief of global operations, Lloyd Taylor, received a rather blingy medallion from Oklahoma governor Brad Henry (see photo) – the head of the MidAmerica industrial park in which the data center complex will be constructed let slip a few details about the process. In an interview with the Tulsa Free Press, Sanders Mitchell described, among other things, how Google refused to disclose its identity until after the final contract was signed:
It was March 11, 2006 and Mitchell was basking in the glow of having just landed a major client in Gatorade when the call from Google came. After an initial period of disbelief, the MidAmerica people received a delegation from their mysterious suitor, a suitor that had some very specific needs but was light on such details as just who they were.
“For quite some time,” Mitchell recalls, “I had no confirmation as to who I was dealing with. I had it narrowed down quite a bit, but until the final contract was signed they (Google) wouldn’t admit who they were. It was an interesting time” …
“We never,” says a Google representative, “comment on who we’re talking to, who we’ve considered, who we’ve rejected. We feel that when we come to an agreement, that’s the time to make an announcement.”
So what were the lures that made Pryor so enticing? “We had all the things they needed,” says Mitchell. “We had 800 acres of prime land that they could use both for their initial data center and for whatever expansion they plan to make in the future. We have plenty of electricity, and we have plenty of water to cool their equipment if they have to generate their own electricity as sometimes happens when we get a power outage in Oklahoma.
“They haven’t really discussed this, but I think one of the things that made us attractive to Google was that we were ready to move on the spur of the moment. We had an 86,000 square foot building already in place, which we had built on speculation. That means they are going to be able to be up and running in a fraction of the time of any other place.
“We also had a lack of red tape I think they found a huge advantage. In other locations so many agencies have to sign off on a project that it can be a year or more before any real movement can be made. I don’t think the team at Google was willing to wait that long.”
So how did Google discover the industrial park in Pryor, Oklahoma? According to Lloyd Taylor, it found it by searching the Net.