Google Cloud creates works of art using big data

visualised data

The work is designed to create a global picture of the data it services

Creative minds at Google Cloud have come up with a way to make data storage more interesting by visualising storage traffic data to create stunning works of art.

In collaboration with Staman Design, a data visualisation design studio, the two companies used the trajectory, velocity and density of data moving around the globe to create virtual maps.

"Looking at Cloud Storage requests over time showed us a distinct pattern, the pattern gave us a way to correlate countries, and each correlation gave us an insight into connections around the globe," said Chris Talbott, Google Cloud's head of cloud storage product marketing.

"So we put it all together in a video that gave every country a turn in the spotlight. It jumps from country to correlated country, showing unexpected connections and prompting conversation and discussion."

Most of the art created by the request data has been on display as Google Cloud's Next events in San Francisco, Tokyo or London. The idea was to create a global picture of its service that highlighted patterns that would help the company better serve its customers.

But, as Talbott put it "somewhat jokingly", Google wondered if it could make boring old storage beautiful. The answer was yes, as it's managed to paint wonderfully vivid pictures using the data.

The process began by looking at cloud storage data, requested by customers. This data charted a request from it's country of origin to the relevant cloud region, and vice versa. The team took one weeks' worth of storage data and searched for useful patterns for customers. The information detailed the direction of the data, but not who it belonged too.

Visualised data migration from around the world - courtesy of Google Cloud

"The associated data also tells us the size of the request in GBs and a timestamp," explained Talbott. "Since the data is anonymized, we don't know which user is making the request, whose data is being requested or what the content is."

"You can make storage beautiful when you look at it in different ways," he said, "and in doing so you can really generate some thought-provoking insights for your customers."

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