Google Data Center in Groningen now officially open

With a groundbreaking ceremony 2014, by Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp the construction of Google’s data center was officially kicked off. Now, two years and €600 million in investments later, the giant building in the Eemshaven is now officially open, the ceremony presided again by Minister Kamp and a special honorary guest, Groningen internet entrepreneur Ben Woldring.

It took almost ten years of courting before the giant Google data center was finally built in Groningen. According to Northern newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden, the decision wasn’t completely based on the strategic location and infrastructure of Eemshaven. It was also part luck, because initially competitor Yahoo was a big contender in 2003, but they decided not to build their data center in Groningen in the end.

Erikas Napjus, then working as international operations manager for Yahoo, oversaw the first negotiations. A year later, the American called with the announcement that he was now working at Google and that they were interested building a data center. In 2006, Google built their first center in Eemshaven, and because the company was very happy with the collaboration with Groningen, they finally decided to build the big one in 2014.

Dozens of soccer fields, 10,000 servers and ample jobs

Google invested €600 million in constructing the giant data center, spanning a surface of almost 40 soccer fields. The construction alone created 1,500 jobs and, according to the company itself, half of those jobs went to Dutch workers. A total of some 10,000 servers will be used to store data, with 100% sustainable power supplied by the wind turbine park offshore in the Wadden Sea.

The complex will employ around 200 technicians, but according to the Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), the Google’s settlement in Groningen will also create more jobs indirectly, such as for local suppliers. And Google is of course a big player with a big reputation, which, according to the NOM, has also sparked the interest of several other big multinationals.

Why Groningen?

The coming of Google wasn’t without controversy. Just last month, it was rumored by the media that almost €2 million in bribes were involved in getting the company to Groningen. Not true, according to Google. The alleged bribes took place in 2008, and it was only in 2012 when Google started talks to build the data center in Eemshaven.

So what is it that makes Groningen interesting to Google? The Eemshaven already has all the necessary technological infrastructure, and more importantly, there’s a big fiber optic internet located there, serving as a data connection between the US and Europe. And having a wind turbine park just around the corner helped too.

Honorary guest Ben Woldring

Google’s data center is already operational, but it was opened officially by Minister Kamp yesterday, the Groningen internet entrepreneur Ben Woldring serving as honorary guest. Woldring has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13 and is most well known for his company Bencom, which is the umbrella company for numerous successful product comparison websites. Woldring has had intensive and friendly contact with Google for years now, and regularly visits Silicon Valley.

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