Joe Kava found himself on the southern coast of Finland, sending robotic cameras down an underground tunnel that stretched into the Baltic Sea. It’s not quite what he expected when he joined Google to run its data centers.
In February of 2009, Google paid about $52 million for an abandoned paper mill in Hamina, Finland, after deciding that the 56-year-old building was the ideal place to build one of the massive computing facilities that serve up its myriad online services. Part of the appeal was that the Hamina mill included an underground tunnel once used to pull water from the Gulf of Finland. Originally, that frigid Baltic water cooled a steam generation plant at the mill, but Google saw it as a way to cool its servers.