What exactly is inside a Google data center?

Google data center locations in 2008

Google has been less than forthcoming about the details of its data centers, since they regard them as tools that provide a competitive advantage. Here are 3 pages of information about Google’s data centers and their locations: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2008/03/27/google-data-center-faq/

Here’s a peek inside Google’s inner workings and hidden mechanisms, in surprising detail, from a Google fellow: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9955184-7.html?tag=mncol;title  Highlights:

  • Google distributes its data and processing across many thousands of servers.
  • They buy comparatively little software. They use open source software (such as Linux) and write their own software.
  • They build fault tolerance into software rather than (expensive) hardware, and run it on lots of cheap expendable hardware.
  • Commercial databases such as Oracle lack needed horsepower, so Google built their own GFS (Google File System) and BigTable.

 

Fault tolerant microprocessor-based servers originated (I think) at Novell.

Slide: Google

Google’s chairman and CEO is Eric Schmidt, who followed Ray Noorda as CEO of Novell. One of Novell’s better pieces of server software was named NetWare SFT-III (System Fault Tolerance), which debuted around 1991. It ran on two identical servers, and kept running even when one server died. It worked like magic: when a server failed, users had no indication that the system had been severely wounded.  Novell later developed this into server clustering, and it sounds like Google has implemented this idea on a broad scale, based upon a Linux core. If Google were to market this server operating system (and who knows what they have planned?), it could seriously affect server software sales for Microsoft and Sun.

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