It's a great irony of our internet age that the company that has done so much to shine a light on the dark corners of the web, Google, through its search technology, is also one of the most secretive - at least when it comes to the vast datacentres that power its platform.
But now Google has provided a rare glimpse of its internal workings with a series of arty photographs showing off its previously unseen datacentres.
"Very few people have stepped inside Google’s datacentres, and for good reason: our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it," wrote Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president of Technical Infrastructure wrote on a company blog.
Part of the reason for the security is the importance of the data that courses through Google's systems. But its sense of secrecy is heightened by the technology itself - Google custom makes its own servers, with their design critical to its data handling capabilities.
Google does not usually allow public tours or site visits to its facilities - even its staff access is tightly controlled - making this inside look at facilities in Iowa, North Carolina and Oregon, among others, even more fascinating.
Given that Google guards its gated facilities more jealously than Oscar Wilde's Selfish Giant, it has certainly gone to some lengths to make its datacentres readily identifiable: its signature colours are splashed throughout many of the pictures.
But Google also seems acutely aware of the negative press surrounding much of the cloud industry - at least when it comes to the environmental impact of these computing hot houses.
Google's Hölzle promised that more details about the photos will be published in the coming days on its Green Blog.
And of that wasn't enough to sate people's appetite, users can also take a virtual tour of one of its New Carolina datacentres, in Lenoir, using its Street View tool.
17 Oct 2012