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Google eyes next steps in The Dalles

Google is casting an eye toward the prospect of expansion at its The Dalles data center.

“People are always curious about what’s going on at Google,” said Dave Karlson, data center site manager in The Dalles, “particularly on that big empty lot in the middle that’s been there since we originally build the building.”

While everything is in preliminary stages right now, Karlson said analysis and other early activities such as site preparation, dirt moving and even filing of building permits may draw public notice. Karlson wants people to know what’s going on.

“I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that, when Google first came here, they weren’t as transparent as they should have been,” he said.

The Dalles was Google’s first site-built remote data center. The land purchase was negotiated in 2004 and 2005 with the Port of The Dalles under extreme confidentiality and the building was developed in the following years under similar restrictions. In many ways, it was a learning process about development on public land in a small town that helped inform its expansion process in other small towns.

“We’ll get a building permit at some point and we are indeed looking at potentially, at some point, doing something,” Karlson said, adding Google is in the exploratory stages. Many of Google’s capacity efforts go unnoticed inside the buildings.

“For the last six years I’ve been here, we’ve been doing various upgrades to expand the equipment and give more capacity to users,” Karlson said. “As we look in terms of immediate demand, as well as what we think might be the demand for products in the next two to five years, we need to think about what we might do to meet that demand. That might be more data center space, or more servers and networks.”

Karlson expects the exploratory phase of added development will move relatively quickly.

“In terms of the actual execution, there hasn’t been any kind of schedule laid out, if it does turn out there’s something we can do.

“I think our first steps are figuring out what our options might be.”

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