Feeds

Google mystery server rooted in Apache

Oompa Loompas go for GFE

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Google Web Server - a custom server used only by Google itself - was originally built from open-source Apache code, according to a former Google employee.

However, over the past several years, the server has been so heavily modified that it now bears little resemblance to the ubiquitous Apache server. It is so tightly tied to Google's famously distributed internal infrastructure, the ex-employee says, it could not be used for serving sites outside of the company.

The Google Web Server is known as GWS - pronounced "gwiss" - inside the Mountain View Chocolate Factory. According to the ex-employee, it's chock full of custom I/O handles meant to interface with Google-specific remote procedure calls.

Google's private infrastructure - sometimes referred as "The Google Network" - spans nearly 40 data centers across the globe, and it's pieced together with myriad custom-built and proprietary tools, including a distributed file system dubbed GFS; a distributed number-crunching platform known as MapReduce; and a new platform known as Spanner, designed to automatically move and replicate loads between the company's mega data centers.

The latest survey data from the web-server-tracking UK research outfit Netcraft shows that even though GWS is only used inside of Google, it's now hosting nearly 13 per cent of all active websites. That's 11 million sites that are regularly updated with new content. This includes not only sites run solely by Google, but also sites the company operates on behalf of third parties via services like Blogger, Google Sites, and Google App Engine.

According to Netcraft, Apache runs 44 million active sites, and Microsoft servers run nearly 14 million.

In a 2007 web post, conspicuous Googler Matt Cutts indicated that GWS was not based on Apache. "That's not correct," he wrote. "I believe GWS is a custom web server, not a modified version of Apache." But this hardly seems authoritative.

For Java applications, Mountain View uses another custom server, which is apparently known as GFE. That's Google Front End - not girlfriend experience. GFE is mentioned in the same 2003 blog post where Cutts comments on Google Web Server. According to the ex-employee, the word inside Google is that this custom Java server "blows Tomcat out of the water."

Google has not responded to our requests for comment on GWS or GFE. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.