Original post - May 30, 2008
Google spotlights data center inner workings
Posted by Stephen Shankland
SAN FRANCISCO--The inner workings of Google just became a little less secret.
The search colossus has shed only occasional light on its data center operations, but on Wednesday, Google fellow Jeff Dean turned a spotlight on some parts of the operation. Speaking to an overflowing crowd at the Google I/O conference here on Wednesday, Dean managed simultaneously to demystify Google a little while also showing just how exotic the company's infrastructure really is.
Google fellow Jeff Dean
(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET News.com)
On the one hand, Google uses more-or-less ordinary servers. Processors, hard drives, memory--you know the drill.
On the other hand, Dean seemingly thinks clusters of 1,800 servers are pretty routine, if not exactly ho-hum. And the software company runs on top of that hardware, enabling a sub-half-second response to an ordinary Google search query that involves 700 to 1,000 servers, is another matter altogether.
Google doesn't reveal exactly how many servers it has, but I'd estimate it's easily in the hundreds of thousands. It puts 40 servers in each rack, Dean said, and by one reckoning, Google has 36 data centers across the globe. With 150 racks per data center, that would mean Google has more than 200,000 servers, and I'd guess it's far beyond that and growing every day.
Regardless of the true numbers, it's fascinating what Google has accomplished, in part by largely ignoring much of the conventional computing industry. Where even massive data centers such as the New York Stock Exchange or airline reservation systems use a lot of mainstream servers and software, Google largely builds its own technology.
I'm sure a number of server companies are sour about it, but Google clearly believes its technological destiny is best left in its own hands. Co-founder Larry Page encourages a "healthy disrespect for the impossible" at Google, according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, in a speech Thursday.