What is it like working at a Google data center? That is a question I get from people now since I recently made it known on social media and this website that I work at the Tech company. So I got the idea to write up my experience working there so far. I’ll talk about the work the Data Center Technicians (or DTs) perform daily, the Google Culture (or Googliness), and the food.
Before I Get To Talking I Need To Lay Out Some Ground Rules
I can’t be specific about the work I or other DTs do at Google because I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Thus, I will skip over some topics completely, or provide generic information. Please do not email me or leave comments asking for more information because I cannot provide it without putting my job at risk. And I love my job and its benefits so I’m not going to release that information.
What Do I Do Working At A Google Data Center?
My official title is a Data Center Technician. That is a mouthful so the company shortens it to DT, and that’s what we call each other. As a DT our job is to diagnose and repair the machine running the various internal and external applications. To diagnose machines we DTs use various proprietary commands and applications to determine the hardware failure. Then we repair the hardware failure using normal tools (like screwdrivers) and replacement parts. Finally, we DTs verify our diagnosis and hardware replacement resolved the issue. If so, then the machine goes through testing and then back into production. However, if our diagnosis didn’t resolve the issue then we start the process over.
Now, that’s what DTs do on a daily basis. However, my job is a little different. I work on a team whose role is to travel to specific data centers and deploy Machine Learning (ML) machines. This is to allow ML training and serving for Google internally or for customers purchasing that feature from Google Cloud. I still have to perform many of the daily tasks regular DTs do everyday because ML machines do break. However, my focus is only on ML machines. Google has non-ML machines and I don’t work on those.
Unfortunately, that’s all I can say about my role working at a Google data center due to the amount of proprietary information surrounding ML machines. However, I can provide links to information Google released publicly about their ML machines. Learn more about the Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) powering the ML machines here. And this article discuss Google’s TPU v4, which provides state-of-the-art ML training.
What Is The Culture Like Working At A Google Data Center?
As a DT working at a Google Data Center the culture within the company is a mixture of laid-back and work. I mean, there’s no micro-managing in the data center because everyone knows what their daily tasks are. We work out of a ticketing system so DTs get their tickets and get to work. Yet, we’re not rushed to get that work done unless the situation is critical.
Even though Google is pushing to become the leader in ML learning and AI they aren’t pushing their workers to the edge to do so. I get daily reminders to take care of myself so I don’t burn out. I can take breaks when needed and no one chastises me for doing so. The reason for this because management knows they need us to get the job done. And if they push us too hard then the job won’t get done. However, the DTs know we shouldn’t take advantage of the company’s laid-back culture. There is work and we need to complete it.
I know there are some people wondering about the office life because there are videos on YouTube and TikTok showing the fun nature of various Google offices. Those videos show video games, and gyms, and massage room, and napping areas. Well, those amenities are at the Google data centers too. Except massages. Google did cut that perk this year. However, we still do have napping areas and video games. I see some employees taking advantage of those during their lunch break. Speaking of lunch, let’s talk about the food.
Yes, The Food Is Awesome At Google
After working at a Google data center and visiting others, I must say the food at Google is pretty awesome!
For breakfast we have the staples like bacon, sausage, and eggs, and some type of bread. Then there is a fruit and smoothie bar. And for the vegetarians and vegans there’s food for them too. Sometimes the chefs will make cinnamon rolls or doughnut holes as a special treat. I don’t eat breakfast often because I fast during the mornings. However, I tend to grab some bacon and sausage to eat with my first meal of the day.
As for lunch that’s where the awesome food appears. Depending on the day we can have grilled steak, or spicy shrimp, or roasted fish, or a roasted chicken dish. I’m a meat-eater so my focus will be on that. The chefs do cook a starch like rice or potatoes and a green veggie to go along with the meat. I guess they are good because I do see other employees eating it. Overall, lunch is my favorite time of day because of the awesome food we get!
Then there is dessert. And this is the food that gets most employees in trouble because many of them overdo it. The chefs will make some type of dessert, like a cake or pie or cookies. They also provide a low-calorie dessert like fresh fruit. Finally, we have a ice cream machine. It’s normal to see an employee add ice cream onto their slice of cake or pie.
Then there are the micro-kitchens which contain all types of snacks and drinks. This where employees can go to grab a bag of chips, dried fruit, a protein bar, or their favorite soda or energy drink.
Finally, there is a thing called “The Google 15” because many employees gain 15 pounds due to overindulgence. I got caught up in that myself but I made myself cut back and then I lost that weight.