back to article Google Spanner — instamatic redundancy for 10 million servers?

Google’s massively global infrastructure now employs a proprietary system that automatically moves and replicates loads between its mega data centers when traffic and hardware issues arise. The distributed technology was first hinted at — in classically coy Google fashion — during a conference this summer, and Google fellow …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Big Brother

    An end to stupid neologisms

    "there's a temperature excursion"

    So a temperature (an abstract measure of entropic energy) goes on an organised tour?

    Dear sir, your brain might well be at least twice effective as my own. But will that really help?

  2. Marvin the Martian

    @ Charlie Clark

    Well, it's not as atrocious as the further usage in "When the temperature starts to excurse in a data center". Hm... sounds familiar... Oh, the same paragraphs-long quotation already appeared 12 days ago on ElReg,

  3. Steve Evans


    At least they are only destroying American and not English.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Forget Skynet, when the machines get intelligent they're going to enslave humanity and force feed us ad-sense. (SHUDDER!)

  5. Allan George Dyer

    Also imprecise

    Why use an imprecise neologism, "excurse" when there is a perfectly good existing word, "rise" that also tells you which direction its going in? Or do they dump load when a data centre gets too cool as well?

    Anyway, he must be paid by the word...

    "When the temperature starts to excurse in a data center" 10 words

    "When a data centre gets hot" 6 words

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Temperature Excursions in Magical Mystery Turing Trips .... Virtual ACID Testing?.!*

    "What we are building here - and of course this is the title of the [paper] - is warehouse-sized compute platforms," Gill said."

    Hmmm? That is just a bit of incomplete temporary information in a byte-sized cloudy** temporal application, and/but it is no wonder that there are senior engineering and architecture allusion and "Dean declined to discuss the presentation with The Reg." whenever, ..... and this is eminently plausibly deniable but nevertheless most definitely the present future status quo position, [and if not with Google, then obviously in A.N.Other HyperRadioProActive NEUKlearer Service with a Lien on their, and also all other Search Engine Placement Services/Virtual Optimisations] ...... Spanners are designed to Build Better and Beta Virtual Governance Machinery ..... Remote Artificial Control Keeps ....... Flowering Powering Towers for Towering EMPowering Flows of Information and Transparently Shared Novel Content Intelligence ..... for Future Enobling Enabling Deeds .... Virtual Succour and AIManna for and/or from Heavenly Resources.

    * Rendered Naturally as both a Bold Exclamation and Question for Fact to Create a Fiction which can be More Easily Followed for an Enlightened and Further Enlightening Understanding of Advanced CyberIntelAIgent Design.

    ** cloudy in this particular context is also inclusive of covert and clandestine and clever, for XXXXStreamly SMART Grids in SMARTer CyberIntelAIgent Grids Works at REST and Play ....... Change AIgents 42 Believe in.

    And All in All, QuITE an IMPortant Google App when Thought True and Practically Real?!. :-)

    I Kid U Not.

  7. Mike Flugennock

    Spanner... in, something you throw into the works? Or "monkeywrench", as we call it in the Colonies.

    Oh, and "load shedding"? Isn't that what you do a couple of hours after dinner?

    Alright, alright, I'm gone.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Forget 'big brother'...

    "Imagine that. A single corporation housing an exabyte of the world's data across thousands of custom-built data centers."

    All open to google to view and gain more marketing data so that they can target ads specifically for you...

  9. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    So a Google failure will not be ..

    .. due to a spanner in the works.

    Look, someone had to say it. Yes, yes, I'm going, the flasher Mac please..

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha

    10^7 So one server per 600 people of the population, one per 150 of all the computers ever sold, and one per 50 of users with broadband?

    Who can out bullshit the other Google or Bing?

    Even 10^6 is far far more than you need, which is why the claimed number stopped being officially released back at about 20k machines. Even with the new services you're looking at less than 10^5 and as servers are replaced by newer models that number will drop. (e.g. 6 years life span, processing power doubles each year, well under 10^4 just from machines expiring and being replaced with newer models).

    You see similar patterns everywhere, take a look at that Racal Recorders voice recorder from the GCHQ story. 480 channels now, where it had 4 or 8 back when Labour came into power.

    I worked out 50 of those would be needed to record all of the UKs telephone calls! 50! Incredible how threatening technology has become, just in the space of 2 electoral terms.

    With technology like that and a government afraid of it's people, be very careful who you vote for, the next government may be your last.

  11. Seán

    I think there is a world market for maybe five computers

    Maybe 7

  12. Noogie Brown

    Google Spanner is approved.

    The system goes on-line October 2009. Human decisions are removed from strategic data-centre control. Spanner begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, October 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Big Deal?

    So they load balance and fail-over between data centers?

    Banks, telco's and others have been doing this since the 1970's...

    I mean ok google have a tobogan in the cantine of their Zurich R&D center -

    But why no article on their crawler technology struggling to keep apace with web 2.0 design choices - flash / javascript ajax frontends; the fact that their pagerank algorithm based as it is on a determining a sites popularity based in a web where people link to one another is becoming inaccurate and open to exploitation; that their attempts at semantic web search will probably never compare to an editorially driven guidebook or well managed directory site (eg. guide Michelin is far superior in helping me find a good restaurant in France) or how about pointing out that their adwords system serves mainly to graffiti scrawl the web with annoying irrelevant spam for products that are mostly not even vaguely related to the content being viewed ?

  14. henchan

    two's power

    Nice use of powers in the article. 10 to the 21 bytes is so much easier than having to do English to decimal conversion mentally. Two's power of bits would be better still.

    Google's and others' effort has been necessary because SirTimBL felt it unnecessary to index the web. He was right at the time of course, but that design decision left quite a legacy in terms of energy. The relationship of data to power consumption at Google and its ilk is apparently closer to linear than logarithmic.

  15. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Thumb Up

    The Cloud as Water Heater.

    Data cloudlets should be sized and installed in residential buildings. Whenever heat is needed, shift in some load.

    Throwing away perfectly good energy does not make economic sense.

    The showering demand of the population should exceed the cooling demand of the cloud.

  16. Neal 5

    smell the $$$$$$$$$$$$$

    "According to Dean’s presentation, Google is intent on scaling Spanner to between one million and 10 million servers, encompassing 10 trillion (1013) directories and a quintillion (1018) bytes of storage. And all this would be spread across “100s to 1000s” of locations around the world."

    How many ads is that, will my web page be able to show them all, will you be able to click on them all, will adsense be able to do the maths for my payments?

    These are the REALLY crucial questions, who cares about temp cooling in their data centres, Google will have that all under control, Google is good, money is good, advertising is good, CO2 emmisions are good, money is good, more money is even better.

    You people don't know what is good for you, Google does, trust in Google, Google will do everything for you, for a price, quite cheap really, once you've signed your soul away. Now you go and sit down, put your feet up and read an online book.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    ""There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system..." from George Orwell's "1984".

    Google knows. Because Google is the watcher. And the answer is that you are being watched all of the time you use anything from Google.

  18. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD



    I wanna know so I can go home to hide.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That's a lot of effort

    Just to list the contents of Wikipedia.

  20. Quirkafleeg


    I keep on reading it as "Spammer"…

  21. Big-nosed Pengie


    It sounds as if Google isn't content with owning the planet, now they want their very own brand of English which is incomprehensible to anyone using the more traditional forms. They're off to a grand start.

  22. Adrian Esdaile
    Black Helicopters

    I for one cannot wait for

    datacentres in Antarctica! Temperature excursions; was that me or did this glacier just move a bit?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Private Internet anyone?


    No more government intervention, just loads of ads!

  24. Ed Gould

    Google Spanner

    What good does it do to duplicate 10 million servers with the same bad information and bad coding?

  25. Dale Richards
    Big Brother

    Re: 1984

    "And the answer is that you are being watched all of the time you use anything from Google."

    You are also being watched any time you use a service that itself uses Google. A website with embedded Google Maps, for instance, or any site that uses Google ads or Google's analytics. Just about every website you're ever likely to visit, in other words.

  26. James Hughes 1

    Excursion appears to be a correct usage..

    Some partly relevant defs. of excursion

    4. a deviation or digression: excursions into futile philosophizing.

    5. Physics. the displacement of a body or a point from a mean position or neutral value, as in an oscillation.

    6. an accidental increase in the power level of a reactor, usually forcing its emergency shutdown.

    So, apart from the use of excurse, which I'm not sure about, the usage of the word appears to be correct.

  27. Christopher Rogers

    Skynet is go

    This is it people. The world wide system that is going to dominate. Be afraid.

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Big Deal?

    " have a tobogan in the cantine of their Zurich R&D centre......"

    Yes, but they've blurred it out now.

  29. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Don't Panic!...

    The Ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42

    But for this week only, its on special offer at 39.99

    BUY NOW! ... (or you won't have any friends ever again!).

    ... (Oh great, Big Brother combined with Deep Thought and Skynet and all rolled into one).

  30. Paul 4

    RE:Ha ha

    10^7 being 100 million, a number not in the artical? 10^5 and 10^6 is though, oh and by servers they probably meen processors.

  31. c3

    Someone called the Waaaaaambulance ?

    You don't like ads, don't go to websites that depend on them for revenue. You don't like Google services, don't use them. Or you could say hello to my little friend (adblock plus).

    Just stop whining about it, you annoying little fuckers !!!

    And if I have to see an ad, I'd rather it's targeted. When I'm at work looking for some software related stuff I wouldn't want to be shown an ad for a big transparent (with a pinkish hue) dildo.

    Mine's the one with the big transparent (with a pinkish hue) dildo in the pocket. Apparently those ads were targeted too, cause you can clobber whining little bastards with it. Just what I was looking for.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pole Dancing

    >> " have a tobogan in the cantine of their Zurich R&D centre......"

    > Yes, but they've blurred it out now.

    I was actually more intrigued by that pole dancing setup they'd got installed.

    A little light entertainment in the corporate hospitality suite for those lengthy (ahem) supplier / government / spook negotiations?

    Paris. x

  33. Anonymous Coward


    >You don't like ads, don't go to websites that depend on them for revenue. You don't like Google services, don't use them.

    Or email scanning algorithm detects a high probability that MRS SMITH is having an extra marital affair. Decorate MR SMITHS web browsing experience with hints for a divorce lawyer.

  34. c3


    1st - that should be considered a public service. if mrs smith is a filthy whore, mr smith needs to find out as soon as possible.

    2nd - how can google know mr & mrs smith are married (unless they also joined their gmail inboxes in holly matrimony) ?? if mrs smith uses a yahoo mail box, how can google know that is married to ?

    3rd - even if they were to use gmail inboxes and Google would detect they live in the same house and seemed to be screwing half of the internet with the other half watching, Google would never risk suggesting a divorce lawyer to cause she might be his daughter or his mother. In the "sue you, sue me" sue-happy US that might cost them a pile of money.

    4th - AFAIK they target ads based on context: the current context. if you're on a website selling bibles maybe they'll present you with an ad for a gun to help you defend from the evil evolutionists out there to get you. they won't be presenting you an ad for big transparent pinkish hue dildo even if yesterday you were looking for the biggest possible dildo to cram up your ass.

    5th - this article deals with a pretty interesting bit of technology: the ability to automatically move large workloads from one data center to the other based on certain factors. with or without it, google would still serve you ads (pinkish hue dildos or not remains to be seen) and perhaps make mad love to your wife while you're away stocking up on food, amo and bibles while attempting to out-paranoy (can I make a verb out of it ?) the average paranoid.

    what this technology does is allow google to be more efficient and maybe pollute a little less by not using large cooling units and instead taking advantage of colder air outside whenever they can. and if the heat they produce would be used (as someone already suggested) to heat a few homes, that would really be efficient. not to mention pretty cool (so to speak).

    so maybe keep the paranoid scenarios for articles about databases being corrupted and un-secure voice/video over IP.

    PS: even if you posted anonymously, we still know who you are.

  35. Neal 5


    Your comments are completely justified from your point of view, alternatively,

    1)no not really, we need as much free porn as we can get, the few of us who aren't shagging Mrs Smith, might want to watch on streaming video, best off Mr Smith being cuckolded for as long as possible.

    2) don't feed the paranoics too much hope, google know everything, at least thats what Bing and Yahoo think, else why compete, the only other alternative realistically is Wolfram Alpha, any other search engine might give a halfway reasonable and respectable response without ads, even tho' I must say that the ads for pinkish hued dildo's seem rather feminine. Not really my cup of tea, personally i thought you boys preferred blue, but what with being a "New" man and all, you'd probably be able to tell me elsewise, I bow to your superior knowledge in that field.

    3)I don't get your point, we all know Yankees are inbreds.

    4)Your obsession with pink dildo's is rather infuriating, seepoint 2) for explanation.

    5)Really, we want porn, we don't want to know how we get, or a what temperature it got served at, it's fap material, not a bloody hot supper at the Savoy.

    Does Google actually need to be more efficient, they already have a monopoly, and along with MS practically dominate the online experience, and so what I hear you say. Well standardisation may well be the in thing, but, Henry Ford realised standisation wasn't winning customers, hence the dumping of any colour you like, so long as it's black.

    @Steve Evans

    I hope you appreciate my non bastardisation of the word colour, obviously it would have saved (a lot of ) time to miss the "u" out of nearly all the words that use a "u", but that would curry no favours would it now. Still, when have the Yankees ever considered "U" in anything they've ever done.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like