Google: One Million Servers And Counting

Gartner reckons that Google now make use of more than 1 million servers, spitting out search results, images, videos, emails and ads.

Google’s sucess is the end result of a complex set of innovation processes. There is the science driven pagerank algorithm, of course., which so far has guaranteed pretty good search results — attracting an obscene number of searchers.

The Adsense text ad program, which is clearly an example of market driven innovation, gives Google a solid revenue stream.

The third cause for success

However, there is another essential factor that is not mentioned equally often: the Google server park. How many computers do you need to handle all that search traffic? And now Google is much more than search.

We are talking about video delivery, email, image and document storage here, and lots of it!

1 million servers, 3 million computers

Peter Hidas of the Gartner Group has an interesting article in the latest issue of Norwegian Computerworld. He refers to Gartner Invest’s attempts at calculating the number of Google computers, and his argument goes like this:

Google reports that it spends some 200 to 250 million US dollars a year on IT equipment. We know that Google make use of a large number of cheap off the shelf servers using open source (and free) LINUX.

If we say that Google spends 900 USD on each machine, and the same sum on storage and peripherals, it is a fair guess that Google uses some 1 million servers in its data centers. Hidas adds:

“Modern servers have several cores, and each of them can be understood as a separate computer. Calculated this way, the number of computers is at least 3 million.”

Google as a server producer

Given Google’s rate of investment, Hidas says, it is likely that Google installs more than 100.000 servers each quarters. In comparison HP delivered 600.000 servers last year, Dell 460.00, and IBM 300.000. If Gartner’s numbers are correct, Google is the fourth larges server producer in the world.

Gartner’s numbers are much higher than previous guestimates, which normally are around 450.000 Google servers, located in data centers in California, Virginia, Georgia, Oregon, Ireland and Belgium.

Gartner reckons that Microsoft has less than half a million servers, or at least under a million. Microsoft does not have Google’s technical solution for using a large number of computers in parallel (the Google File System).

Note: This article is a text only archived version of original article which was first published on 2 July 2007. We made it available for reference purpose only as it is still among the most sought content from old site.