Simon Willison’s Weblog


What is Google?

5th April 2004

Via John Battelle, Rick Skrenta’s remarkable piece on what Google have actually built. They don’t just have the world’s best search engine, they have the world’s largest and most scalable platform for developing huge web-based applications.

Google has taken the last 10 years of systems software research out of university labs, and built their own proprietary, production quality system. What is this platform that Google is building? It’s a distributed computing platform that can manage web-scale datasets on 100,000 node server clusters. It includes a petabyte, distributed, fault tolerant filesystem, distributed RPC code, probably network shared memory and process migration. And a datacenter management system which lets a handful of ops engineers effectively run 100,000 servers. Any of these projects could be the sole focus of a startup.

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While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.

Fascinating stuff.

This is What is Google? by Simon Willison, posted on 5th April 2004.

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