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Stunning photos let you inside Google's private data centres

Behind-the-scenes tours are usually relegated to Hollywood sets and the White House. But Google has launched a new website that features high-resolution photos of the company's server floor, an area to which only a small set of employees have been granted access.

Where the Internet Lives is a new site featuring the photography of Connie Zhou, who takes viewers on a never-before-seen ride through the technology, people, and places that keep the search engine running.

Google has been keeping its data centres under wraps for years, and for good reason, it said. "Our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it, keeping our sites under close guard," Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructures, said in a blog post.

In addition to the inside look at the Council Bluffs, Iowa, location, Googlers can also explore the company's Lenoir, North Carolina, data centre in Street View.

"Walk in the front door, head up the stairs, turn right at the ping-pong table and head down the hall to the data center floor," Hölzle said. "Or take a stroll around the exterior of the facility to see our energy-efficient cooling infrastructure."

Google invited Wired writer Steven Levy to explore the architecture in person, and cited his article as "an exploration of the history and evolution of our infrastructure, with a first-time-ever report from the floor of a Google data center."

To learn more about the data centre and the equipment inside, watch Google's video below.

In the coming days, more photos and details will be shared via the Google Green Blog.

"Fourteen years ago, back when Google was a student research project, [CEO Larry Page] and [co-founder Sergey Brin] powered their new search engine using a few cheap, off-the-shelf servers stacked in creative ways," Hölzle wrote. "We've grown a big since then, and we hope you enjoy this glimpse as what we've built."