This is just not gossip. It's not about Sergey Brin's love affair.
This is about a piece of technology that is possibly built by Google.
Actually it feels to me like they're stealing it anyway they can... so if there is a legal recourse, I think it's safe to assume they've taken it, along with many illegal ones.
The territorial water is 12 miles wide, it's far. Exclusive economic zone is 200 miles wide, it's really far. Who want to be that far from the coast in the winter without a good reason on the most powerful and dangerous ocean? In the article they say 3 to 7 miles, that's completely territorial and for a good reason: on the first winter storm they'll be plenty happy with sovereign state helping them shelter the thing and save everybody.
Moreover, how do you anchor the thing in international waters? It's very complicated and expensive if the water is deep (which is more or less implied by 200 miles from the shore).
BAL0001 BY AND LARGE LLC * * C & C MARINE & REPAIR LLC 2010 Freight Barge 2164.0 249.6
BAL0010 BY AND LARGE LLC * * C & C MARINE 2011 Passenger Barge (Inspected) 2520.0 260.1
BAL0011 BY AND LARGE LLC * * C & C MARINE 2011 Passenger Barge (Inspected) 2520.0 260.1
BAL0100 BY AND LARGE LLC * * C & C MARINE 2012 Freight Barge 2164.0 249.6
This is done pretty often for shell companies, they will have names like "Twisting River" or just "Investment Vehicle VII, LLC"
They could have probably found a way to take even the name that was similar to an overseas company that has a connection to shipping, maritime etc. and simply do a variation of that (and make it in a way that doesn't infringe any trademarks).
That way all the pain in the ass bystanders would simply jump quickly to the obvious wrong conclusion and move to something else.
My point being is that if you are truly trying to hide something then at least put some effort into creating a good distraction.
It's clear they are optimizing for fun.
Furthermore, what's the concern with them crashing in to the ground? It's not like they plan to install them directly over populated areas.
Doesn't sound that far fetched that they would try to anchor this to the barge to try to tap that potential.
 - http://www.makanipower.com/why-airborne-wind/
Something like this, perhaps: http://www.skysails.info/english
The nautical double-entendre that ZeroGravitas mentions only sweetens the deal.
Interesting. The movie came out in 2008.
But the film concept dates to the mid 90's so most likely that concept was the first use of that name.
BY AND LARGE = Brin sergeY AND LARry paGE?
The OP is a much better article (The Press Herald is garbage).
My original guess for the barge-building in Portland was a ocean-based prison facility for the government to use for interrogations. But it's seeming like the floating data center idea is much more likely.
Not a bad guess at all, since it really does look like a modern prison ship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vernon_C_Bain_Correctional...
If you want to raise capital and build a startup here, don't. Or, at least, do so but with your "real" headquarters in Boston, NY or CA.
There's a strong effort to try and get things going, but there's a definite lack of capital and the capital you can find in other places will send you a consistent message: "We don't want you in Maine, move here instead."
There are some opportunities around maritime businesses (logistics, mostly) and lots of incentives for trying to build small manufacturing and renewable energy businesses... but the school closest to Portland is looking to close its physics department and the state officials responsible for managing the incentive programs have proven multiple times that they cannot be trusted to develop long-term programs.
If you have or can develop a remote-work type position, it's a great place to live and work from (as long as you can get good, reliable bandwidth).
But if you want to start a software-focused startup ... honestly ... it's an uphill battle.
>If you want to raise capital and build a startup here, don't. Or, at least, do so but with your "real" headquarters in Boston, NY or CA.
Ah, yeah. I'm in NYC now. I figured that if I started something in Maine, I'd be on the Noreaster on a semi-regular basis. I wouldn't be looking for an angel investor and would be bootstrapping instead.
>but the school closest to Portland is looking to close its physics department
Physics isn't Comp Sci, but I get your point. USM was my first school before transferring, so ouch.
>If you have or can develop a remote-work type position, it's a great place to live and work from (as long as you can get good, reliable bandwidth).
That's sort of what I'm thinking for at least a few years. I'd be looking to buy a place on the West End and then start my own shop when it's reasonably paid down (3-5 years).
>But if you want to start a software-focused startup ... honestly ... it's an uphill battle.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. It definitely helped me put some things back into perspective.
But I do get the sense that things have improved a bit since then.
That's what I'd be doing at first. It's such a nice city, but business just can't seem to stick.
>I worked for a smallish company back in the mid-2000s, and it's likely that things have changed, but back then the tech-related investors wanted you to move to Boston
Ha! My first job was at GWI.net. I didn't realize how lowly paid Maine tech was until I moved.
I'd be looking to do something similar actually (I'm in NYC too). What kind of work is it predominantly? You mentioned web boutiques and that's sort of what I was expecting.
It could be a floating prison, filled with a giant data-center! The NSA+Google tie could mean that they both needed an interrogation free zone, one for torture, the other for stealing data. Both would benefit form letting prisoners generate the energy. They could even argue, that it's good for health to breath sea air and do regular "workout". Then they could offer the unused crunching power as an OSaaS – Overseas Sofware as a Service that is similar to AWS and Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Aside from that, isn't it illegal to systematically heat the water of the ocean with hot waste water?? Can't something be done against that?
Why are such prison ships even allowed to be built from tax-money, isn't it illegal?
My second thought: "Meh, the job interview probably involves writing a breadth-first search algorithm to search for known pirates in the graph of nearby ports."
You need to think at Google scale.
Due to speed-of-light delays, some of the ideal locations for hosting high-speed trading arbitrages are in the middle of the ocean. Being half way between two exchanges would allow you to notice a small difference in price of some commodity in two different exchanges and buy and sell microseconds before your competitors on the mainland know that there's an arbitrage opportunity. See http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/action/stocktrade.cfm
On the other hand there are probably cheaper ways to beat your competitors than crewing a boat, paying for fuel/electricity, havign a datacenter crew on board, dealing with the challenges of getting a high bandwidth signal hundred of miles off-shore, etc. Specifically you could invest in ever-faster custom processing in hardware or a lower latency connection will still make you faster than your competitors. You don't need to be as fast as possible, you only need to be a tiny bit faster than everyone else.
On the other hand, if someone can take advantage of economy of scale (by being a neutral provider to many brokers) and provide an advantage over everyone at a lower cost than the above options, then everyone would need to use it to compete effectively.
My guess for why people aren't doing it yet is that first, there are still untapped locations on land that are easier to get running (example: the Chicago to NY fiber run), and second getting the data to the ocean point isn't trivial.
I think if you want to look for early signaling of someone doing this, look for where telco folks route new fiber runs. If they take a longer path to go near one of the points in the paper I'd bet they're at least hedging for the possibility of using that fiber run for arbitrage.
Edit: a more mundane explanation may be that the arbitrage is so low margin that the payback time isn't practical vs the initial investment.
I don't think the cost/benefit is acceptable considering more serviceable locations that already have fiber, like Hawaii in the Pacific. Operational costs for a floating platform are much higher, and fixing anything major would take days instead of hours.
What about DDoS attacks (N/A if these are private network links) or real pirate attacks?
Notice I did NOT state the corollary, "I don't see trading boats in the Pacific, so it's not possible to do.". I suppose that could be accidently inferred from my statement, but that was not my intent.
I'm not sure that this is possible without working directly with someone like Hibernia Atlantic or FLAG to get a fiber splice in the middle of the ocean.... which puts this beyond the reach of the average startup and into Goldman-or-JP-morgan territory, pricewise.
For those who want to play at home - where would you drop your offshore arbitrage platform, given the cable spread on this map: http://submarine-cable-map-2013.telegeography.com/
 Its under development http://www.pelamiswave.com/ but I don't think its finished yet.
Diesel generators seem... unGoogley.
Not enough depth in the Bay for OTEC, though. (You need a bigger temperature gradient)
> Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.
-- Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Computer Networks, 4th ed., p. 91
Google was granted a patent in 2009 for a floating data center
My wacky guess would have been off-shore offices for employees that can't get H1Bs.
Besides, Tata and Wipro have demonstrated that you can just bring people here to work, coop them 8 to a suite in extended stay hotel rooms, and with sufficient lawyering and a couple of hoops, visas be damned.
But, you know, more than one... or something.
Any chance that this will mean the Govt can't subpoena data from this data center if it is floating far enough from the US coast? Or does it not matter because clearly the US will be the closest harbor?
There's going to be a cable connecting this to the mainland, which one could argue means the ship is moored to the U.S. coastline?
Might be a fun legal battle.
Well if they weren't an american corporation they would be doing this anyway. Besides, perhaps the most important data wouldn't ever have to be transmitted into the country.
What is a concern is salt water, wind blowing the surface of of the ocean can add salt into the air that will eventually get into the containers. Salt moisture will be a huge long term problem.
Protecting everything from salt spray is going to be the bigger concern.
Google has owns so much real estate and immovable property in the US it is silly to suppose they are thinking of leaving the country just because they built a couple of barges.
Is this really that expensive that's still advantageous considering the costs of a barge + electricity + data link to the sea + fuel + maintenance ?
Source: he's a friend of a family member.
The article keeps saying "huge", but really that's tiny for a ship. Google could buy an old cruise liner and fit several of those inside. Or maybe Google is going to buy more little ships and plonk one of these in each?
I hope that they have adequate security, because all that gold and copper is worth stealing for some people.
 Redundant Array of Inexpensive Ships
* tongue firmly in cheek as I knowigly contribute to the problem in the hopes of educating everyone away from it
A friend of mine just got back from Treasure Island (she works as a stewardess on millionaires boats), and hung out with a lot of the guys working on this. This is definitely Google's doing, and she was told that it is indeed a data-centre, but that's all the info she got.
You can probably charge a premium for easily accessible highly secure data I would imagine.
... assuming megalodon isn't still around
A floating data center barge anchored a mile offshore is as close as you can get to tsunami-proof. At worst, its connection to the mainland would be severed if the tsunami destroyed the local land-based telecom infrastructure. Any data located on the barge would still be intact until communications could be restored.
Also, the Japanese Earthquake killed a guy in California:
It doesn't need to be a close earthquake to kill people.
The worst thing a tsunami could do to a floating data center is break the internet connection, assuming a cable is used.
 book named "Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears:
You can see these here: http://tinyurl.com/floatingcontainers
In a dystopian future, when the world as we know it is covered in water, one mythical ship traverses the oceans, powered by stratosphere kites or nuclear power. Nobody knows where it's from.
All we know is that many years ago, it became sentient.
And its name is Google.
For example an "Orkut data center" would have been very useful to Google in 2008, when they announced they were moving its operations to Brazil because somewhat unpredictably this is where their core user base developed the most: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orkut
Cable landing is a hard problem.
It's a similar idea but comparing Google putting it's resources behind a similar idea to something like Sealand is not really a fair comparison.
The outcome could be vastly different.
I wonder how the hardware will hold up to the environmental harshnesses of the open water? Or even just sea spray...
I suppose you might build a datacenter there and then ship it to some third-world port where you don't want to do construction.
While I love the idea of a gmail datacenter in international waters with automatic guns to deter boarders, that really wouldn't fit Google's current political strategy.
Trickling details out about something still taking shape leads to expectation problems, and perhaps less favorable coverage (in magnitude and tone) at intended launch time.
It's too big to hide the fact that someone is doing something, so by making obvious efforts to keep it secret, they prompt people to look into it, find clues that its tied back to Google, and give more press to the effort than it would have gotten if Google had issued a press release about building floating data centers.
Perhaps also for legal reasons. For example larger companies use shell companies for purposes of reduced liability.
Or perhaps the tech/approach is untested, and they want to do some preliminary tests/dry runs before putting their branding all over it.
These security measures are pretty tame in the grand scheme of things though. I think if google did want to completely mask their involvement, they would have at least issued different badges and credit cards to their employees on site.
Also, does wave power really yield sufficient energy?
Is this true? Does anyone know why? The article seems to assume it without saying why.
Also, I'm surprised I got the time right, for some reason 2005-2012 is one big blur to me and I usually pick the wrong end of that range when guessing when things happened. It also seems that none of these articles mention what I recalled reading in articles years ago about just replacing a box once its performance degrades. I'm either misremembering or that ended up being a non-feature once fielded.
A more recent article, this one is MS in VA: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/02/boydton/
A critique of the approach:
I think that's the same one the datacenterknowledge.com article I linked refers to though.
A previous employer used a TEU contained power/cooling/servers for mobile disaster recovery circa 2003. More recently some have used fuel cells in place of diesel generators.
A shipping container is a standardized container. It's like designing a PC case. Standard sizes makes things very convenient.
It's like Legos and interchangeable computing parts. But bigger.
Everybody else is doing it...why not google?
(Don't downvote me. I'm obviously joking.)
"Boy that was quite a storm last night...oh wait...gmail just floated away and is halfway to hawai'i"
This one's included in the article: https://www.google.com/patents/US7525207