Feeds

Google mystery server rooted in Apache

Oompa Loompas go for GFE

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

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
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.