Feeds

Google Spanner — instamatic redundancy for 10 million servers?

Mountain View wants your exabyte

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Google’s favorite sentence

Asked if he what he would do if he could “wave a magic wand” to create a back-end net technology that “we don’t have today,” Gill waxed cryptic about Google’s famously distributed online infrastructure — which treats data centers as “warehouse-scale” machines — touching on the idea of moving loads from any data center that’s in danger of overheating.

“What we are building here...is warehouse-sized compute platforms,” Gill said. “You have to have integration with everything right from the chillers down all the way to the CPU.

“Sometimes, there’s a temperature excursion, and you might want to do a quick load-shedding — a quick load-shedding to prevent a temperature excursion because, hey, you have a data center with no chillers. You want to move some load off. You want to cut some CPUs and some of the processes in RAM.”

And he indicated the company could do this automatically and near-instantly — meaning without human intervention. “How do you manage the system and optimize it on a global level? That is the interesting part,” Gill continued.

“What we’ve got here [with Google] is massive — like hundreds of thousands of variable linear programming problems that need to run in quasi-real-time. When the temperature starts to excurse in a data center, you don’t have the luxury to sitting around for a half an hour… You have on the order of seconds.”

Asked if this was a technology Google is using today, Gill responded with one of Google’s favorite sentences. “I could not possibly comment on that," he said. When we later asked uber Googler Matt Cutts about this — with a Google PR man listening on the line — Cutts gave another Googly response: “I don't believe we have published any papers regarding that,” he said.

But it would seem that Gill was referring to Spanner. And judging from Dean’s presentation, the technology has already been deployed. As reported by Data Center Knowledge, Google has also said that its new data center in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium, operates without chillers. Apparently, Spanner is used to automatically move loads out of the Belgium facility when the outside air gets too hot during the summer.

Additional information is sketchy. Dean refers to Spanner as a “single global namespace,” with names completely independent of the location of the data. The design is similar to BigTable, Google’s distributed database, but rather than organizing data in rows, it uses hierarchical directories.

Dean also mentions “zones of semi-autonomous control,” indicating that Google splits its distributed infrastructure into various subsections that provide redundancy by operating independently of each other.

The goal, Dean says, is to provide access to data in less than 50 milliseconds 99 per cent of the time. And Google aims to store data on at least two disks in the European Union, two in US, and one in Asia.

But one has to wonder how far this technology has actually progressed. Over the past year, two much-discussed Gmail outages occurred when Google was moving workloads between data centers.

Clearly, Google has talent for distributed computing. But it also has talent for leaking just enough information to make you think it must doing something that no one else could possibly do. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
VMware vaporises vCHS hybrid cloud service
AnD yEt mOre cRazy cAps to dEal wIth
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?