Google Could Be Sending Its Data Out to Sea

A barge on Treasure Island in San Francisco, Oct. 29, 2013 has sparked online speculation that it is owned by Google.

A barge on Treasure Island in San Francisco, Oct. 29, 2013 has sparked online speculation that it is owned by Google. Jeff Chiu/AP

Featured eBooks

Digital First
Cloud Smarter
Cybersecurity & the Road Ahead

Nerdy names and a patent suggest barges spotted off the U.S. coasts belong to the tech giant.

Rumors have begun swirling around four large, floating barges that have appeared on both the east and west coasts of the United States over the weekend. Signs indicate that the structures, which are four stories tall, are supposedly owned by Google, but the company will not comment on them.

So what makes some believe that they are owned by Google? There are a few clues that indicate that whoever owns the barges has a quirky, technology centric sense of humor. The four structures are registered in Delaware as BAL0001, BAL0010, BAL0011 and BAL0100. The numeral parts of those monikers are the binary versions of "one," "two," "three," and "four." The "BAL" part of the name refers to the company that registered them, named Buy and Large. Buy and Large was the monolithic corporation responsible for making everyone fat and lazy in Wall-EOne and Two are currently in San Francisco and Three is in Portland, Maine. Computerworld attempted to follow up on the registered company's contact info, but thy had no phone number and couldn't be reached at their registered address.

There are a number of theories as to what the barges might house, but there are two clear frontrunners. The first theory, reported by KPIX, is that the barge is a traveling Google Glass store, allowing the search giant to drift up and down the coast, hawking its wares to a public by way of an enormous boat-store.

The other theory is that the barges are floating data centers—a concept for which Google owns a patent—"comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units." Like most tech company's Google's data centers expound much of their energy on cooling systems for their servers, but using that always-brisk seawater as coolant instead could save the company a lot in terms of energy consumption.