Data Centers. How often do you think about them? If you’re like me than not much.

Data Centers are the physical embodiment of the ubiquitous cloud. And over the last forty years the computing paradigm has shifted from the data center to the desktop back to the data center. Clunky data terminals to powerful standalone workstations, before finally onto the present. The thin client, app-driven model.

But one thing most of us never think about is just how many servers reside in these data centers to support what are now increasingly more mobile platform driven apps. At least I know I don’t. And I’ve been in a bunch of data centers over the years.

Data centers by and large are chilled like meat storage facilities, only cleaner. And instead of meat, the floorspace is populated with identical cabinets housing things like servers, UPSs, routers, firewalls and other network kind of appliances.

But the size – ye gads! – is overwhelming. The numbers – as I discovered this morning – are astounding. For instance it was reported that Facebook just crossed the one million server mark, something that Google did several years ago. Amazon doesn’t like to talk about it but rumor has it that they have an order of magnitude of more servers than Google.

And to think that McDonalds has only a mere 35,000 locations to serve you.

PS РIn non-taco eating countries it might be easy to see how hamburgers and fries fills in the food fuel gap.  But that said, I personally find it hard to reconcile our data consumptive/storage habits to such an extreme. Then again I am an old fashioned traditionalist: I buy locally, I eat locally. I create content locally, and I store locally (this blog excluded).