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Inside the Google-Plex 130

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the belly-of-the-beast dept.
tappytibbins writes "Baseline magazine has an in-depth story about how Google manages its own IT infrastructure. From the article: 'In general, Google has a split personality when it comes to questions about its back-end systems. To the media, its answer is, "Sorry, we don't talk about our infrastructure." Yet, Google engineers crack the door open wider when addressing computer science audiences, such as rooms full of graduate students whom it is interested in recruiting.'"
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Inside the Google-Plex

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:39PM (#15694400)
    print friendly version [baselinemag.com], because their page layout is a little too far on the "hey, if we add more adverts, we'll make more money!!1!"/WiReD-more-colors-are-good end of the scale.
    • by Ayanami Rei (621112) * <rayanami@gmai l . com> on Monday July 10, 2006 @11:04PM (#15695638) Journal
      It's not the highly parallel clustered racks of custom-designed linux servers that makes Google Google. That's an enabling feature. Rather, it's their custom engineered application-level operating environment, if you will, which runs on top of that. It's good at keeping data, indexing attributes, finding it, breaking problems down, and intelligently routing work and results. The search engine and all their other apps are built on top of this, and it allows their engineers to leverage this common distributed platform in all of their external and internal applications.

      === End Elevator Summary ===

      Not many companies are willing to write their own application layers to deploy services. Most companies CAN'T. It's just not worth it. It's worth it to Google because developing and deploying world-wide information retrieval services is their business.

      However, a standardized Application OE that can run and take advantages of the resources of many potentially unreliable computing resources would be very valuable to many businesses.
      Grid technologies, web services, J2EE, and clustering technologies are just scratching the surface.
  • by eclectro (227083) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:39PM (#15694402)

    I want inside the google party plane!!
  • Also... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:41PM (#15694411) Journal
    On a related note: "Behind the Glass Curtain: [metropolismag.com] Google's new headquarters balances its utopian desire for transparency with its very real need for privacy."

    I'm still waiting for pictures of the "party plane", though.

    • something like this: http://ed-thelen.org/ifc_comp.jpg [ed-thelen.org]
      PARTY!
    • Re:Also... (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Holy jumping Jehosephat. When on earth is this ridiculous google spoogefest going to end? He was addressing CIOs? Yeah? Well, that explains why I now hear on an alomst daily basis 'just make it like Google', whether it be search, infrastructure, or personnel. Let's see what it would actually mean to 'make it like Google'.

      1. Isn't PageRank based on a voting system? OK, in an intranet full of PDFs and Word docs, who votes? Yup, that's right, PageRank doesn't work in an enterprise context.
      2. Infrastructure. Th
      • Re:Also... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Cydonian (603441) on Monday July 10, 2006 @11:06PM (#15695645) Homepage Journal
        Isn't PageRank based on a voting system? OK, in an intranet full of PDFs and Word docs, who votes? Yup, that's right, PageRank doesn't work in an enterprise context.
        I think it is fairly obvious that Google does not use PageRank for some of its specialized searches, such as for gmail, Google video and so on; they simply use some text-matching algorithm in those apps. Not that hard to imagine that this would be the case with Google Enterprise (or whatever they call their app).
        Come to think of it, why do they need that many? Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, and everyone else index the web with far fewer I'll bet
        Unless you're trolling, (or think Google should be a search engine alone), you would know that Google does a lot more than plain-vanilla web search.
        Don't get me started. 5,000 PhDs and their efforts to combat Click Fraud amount to -erm- not a whole hill o'beans.
        Try reading that ZDNet article, instead of forming opinions just by looking at headlines.
        1. Not "vote" in the sense you're thinking of. [wikipedia.org]
        2. That data's not "read-only" as far as Google's concerned - it has to be "rewritten" whenever Google-indexed websites are republished.

        Hope that helps.

  • Friendly (Score:3, Informative)

    by wjsroot (732775) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:42PM (#15694418)
    Its nice to know that some companies are willing to open their doors to the Tech comunity. Reminds me of Open Source Software... but only with hardware

    It still worries me that google will soon know everything about everyone. I hope they dont share that data with ANYONE.
    • *Chuckle*. Hope all you want. Even if the current owners do not, what makes you think that the next group won't? Brilliant men get bored easy. It won't be long before shares are sold, and they are off to the next challenge. Then, it will be all about the money.

      And that is if it isn't already. Id love to do a poll finding out age versus perception of Google. I am willing to bet that those older, who have seen this story play out before, have seen corporations abuse power for a couple decades have a much more
    • Re:Friendly (Score:2, Informative)

      by SilverJets (131916)
      I found Google to be very closed when interviewing with them. They had gone to the trouble of setting up a tech phone interview for me at my convenience since we are in different time zones. At the end of the interview when the interviewer asked if I had any questions all I got back was "Sorry we don't talk about infrastructure" and "Sorry I can't answer that" when asking basic questions about what servers they run, how many, what OS, etc. Considering it was a Sys Admin job I was interviewing for I found
  • I feel bad for the sysadmin
    • I don't. The Google Plex is like a sysadmins playground... So much hardware to toy with, so little time!
    • They have two, you insensitive clod!

      They still haven't been able to break that 225000 to 1 host to sysadmin ratio barrier yet. But they're working on it.
      • Re:Sysasmin(S) (Score:4, Interesting)

        by adpowers (153922) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:11PM (#15694860)
        I'm sure they need more than that. Google representatives often say (when talking about cheap commodity hardware), "With 1000 machines, you can expect one to fail everyday." Therefore, if they have 450,000 machines, you can expect about 450 to fail a day. Not only that, but they are probably adding machines like crazy and replacing old machines as they become cost-inefficient (the numbers I've heard say they keep computers for 2-3 years). I think it would take more than two guys to do all that. I'm sure they have a huge ratio of computers to sysadmins, but they still need a bunch of folks to replace the dead machines and add new ones. I imagine their servers are easy to manage on the software side, however.
        • Re:Sysasmin(S) (Score:5, Interesting)

          by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash&p10link,net> on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:54PM (#15695092) Homepage
          i seem to remember reading they don't replace the failed ones, they just junk the entire rack when it becomes not worth running anymore.

          i'm guessing google are big enough to have thier own datacenters and thus not have space at such a premium as smaller operations. If space isn't at a premium replacing a machine in a rack probablly isn't worth it (it means you have a machine whose remaining usefull life is out of sync with the rest of the rack its in).

        • I wonder how this fast-food approach to hardware will behave over time. On one hand you have most of well established software companies that prefer stable (and expensive) hardware, but on the other hand you have this unique and very successful company that runs the "consume until it dies" pattern.
    • Don't be. They just bumped his salary to $55K.
  • Looks like it's time for Google to start making prospective students sign non-disclosure agreements...
  • by Flavio (12072) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:45PM (#15694427)
    Most journalists and business analysts are notable for doing a half-assed job and taking credit for cut & paste jobs. Journalists who actually spend time researching their stories are a dying breed, so my take on this is that Google would rather not waste their time answering stupid questions from people who don't even understand what they're publishing. Their time is much better spent recruiting smart people or just talking to grad students in some sort of academic goodwill.
  • by A Dafa Disciple (876967) * on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:51PM (#15694458) Homepage
    Google engineers crack the door open wider when addressing computer science audiences, such as rooms full of graduate students whom it is interested in recruiting

    An alum of my university who works at Google recently visited and gave an informative lecture with a long Q&A session. I can vouch for the fact that we were told more than I've ever been able to read online about the way Google manages various issues, like their IT infrastucture. However there were still limitations to what he would/could tell us (sorry I won't go into specifics). It seemed (as you would expect) the better our questions, the better his answers, and if we asked questions that were too good, then it was likely that he did not feel liberated to answer.

    Also, Google was cool enough to sponsor a Programming Contest and a Graduate Research Conference we held. Our alum attended our little conference and had great feedback and questions for our presenting students. With respect to knowledge, intelligence, and humor this guy was all I would imagine and/or hope for one of our alums working at Google.

    On the otherhand, I was very unimpressed with certain issues concerning lack of professionalism in the lecture. As one example, though this is only an impression, it seemed that he felt he could just get away with wearing jeans and a Google t-shirt for the few days that he was with us because he worked at the ever prestigious Google. It seemed a bit arrogant. Also keep in mind that his position at google is higher than a solutions engineer.

    Just thought I'd share.
    • by SoCalChris (573049) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:01PM (#15694507) Journal
      On the otherhand, I was very unimpressed with certain issues concerning lack of professionalism in the lecture. As one example, though this is only an impression, it seemed that he felt he could just get away with wearing jeans and a Google t-shirt for the few days that he was with us because he worked at the ever prestigious Google. It seemed a bit arrogant.
      Why does he have to wear anything more than jeans & a Google shirt? A computer guy in a shirt & tie is not a happy computer guy.

      It's been my experience that the companies who worried most about what their IT staff was wearing were the worst to work for.
      • Seconded. I worked one summer as a co-op student at Los Alamos National Laboratory (where the dress code is basically "Shirt and Shoes"). I recieved very high marks from my mentor in the 'dress' category for wearing my normal street clothes. As he put it, "You're a scientist. You should be focusing on the science instead of wasting time dressing up."
      • I certainly agree with you, in that, while working (programming like crazy) and not having to deal with clientele or the outside world, you should be in whatever attire you are most comfortable in. However, when dealing with the outside world, I believe it to be most respective and professional to wear professional attire that is appropriate to that correspondence.

        Sure, it's all relative, but just because you're a programmer or even a manager of programmers doesn't mean you have a free pass to represent y
        • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:28PM (#15694648) Journal
          Fair point, but perhaps people who equate clothes with professionalism (not accusing you, and it is true that we all make judgements on appearance to some degree, but anyway...) have been deemed as people who they do not feel the need to impress. If I owned a business I would certainly be inclined to think that way - maybe that's a reason that I wouldn't succeed in owning a business, but it appears that Google makes as much money as they could ever need; if they don't become too greedy they can afford to interact with the world on their own terms rather than those decided by a particular portion of society.

          In essence, I see the jeans and a T-shirt as a positive representation of the company, it represents a company in which essentially arbitrary rules are examined for their usefulness and if neccessary discarded.
          • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:43PM (#15695043) Journal
            A few decades ago in a small service bureau near LAX a visiting suit-and-tie type walked past and took exception to the engineer who was dressed in shirt and jeans and busily filing down a resistor on a logic card. Seems he wanted the miscreant fired/evicted for (a) not representing CDC to the public correctly, (b) obviously damaging a very rare and expensive piece of equipment, and (c) ignoring him. "That's Seymour," said the DC manager, "and I don't think you can fire him. And if he's filing down a resistor, I presume the computer will work better that way".

            Please accept the above for the lovely second-hand urban myth that it is, one belonging to a CDC 6600 site where I was lucky enough to attend a few lectures.

            • I've heard a similar urban legend.

              The CEO walks into the elevator, and sees a man stood there in jeans smoking a cigarette. The company had a strict no-smoking policy (this is some years ago, before it was commonplace) and a strict dress code.

              Incensed, the CEO demands how much this man is paid.

              "$750 per month" (told you it was some years ago!)
              "Here's $750. Get out and don't come back."
              "OK." ... the elevator reaches the ground floor, and they both leave the building. The man in the jeans calmly walks out
            • Bearing in mind the average age of a /. reader, I think you should have provided footnotes to explain "logic card", "Seymour" and "CDC".
              • Bearing in mind the average age of a /. reader, I think you should have provided footnotes to explain "logic card", "Seymour" and "CDC".

                Quite correct, and I apologise.

                "Logic card" meant a circuit board that contained a single logic element, such as a half-adder or a register.

                "CDC" meant Control Data Corporation, whose first deliveries of 6000-series supercomputers were the reason IBM announced the System 360 and OS one year before the first prototype was seen.

                "Seymour", single name, used to mean only

        • I dunno... I'm always a little more suspicious of people who dress too nicely, act too nicely, write too cleanly or any other things which take effort to get a superficially nice result but nothing else of real value. This suspiciousness extends to organisations that harbour that kind of culture so that, when I have a choice, I avoid them. It always seems to me like they're either compensating for their lack of true value and competence or they are trying to deceive or both. After all, snake oil salesmen
          • I think like that too. Impress me with what you got, not what you're wearing. Anyone who has a preoccupation with clothes is simply superficial... which means they're either stupid, or trying to con you.

            It's not disrespect when someone doesn't wear a suit, it's common sense. The bloody things have got to be the most ridiculously impractical peices of clothing on the face of the Earth. The jacket is like a sweater; hot as hell in the summer yet not warm enough to replace a winter coat. The pants stain, wrink
          • Agreed. FYI One trick to a good professional presentation during a technical interview is to wear a badly-fitting (but clean) suit with an inexpertly knotted tie. If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they're clean. It shows you made the effort, but are not at home looking like a marketing flack.

            ...Three or four hundred interviews for tech staff to my name (and had to live with the result); truth is, you can generally tell if someone's the goods in the first two minutes of the interview, irrespective of wha

            • i base my personal presentation for interviews on my experience in 1997 when i was 19 and got an interview with a waaay old school fortune 500 company. figuring that if i showed up in my dressiest clothes i would be expected to continue to dress that way, i showed up wearing the best clothes i could feel comfortable in -- jeans, a short sleeved tennis shirt and my always-on black zip-up hoodie over top. the interview was conducted by four people, one manager in a suit, two workers in business casual, and
          • As my sig says - professionalism is the last refuge of the incompetent.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The way a professor of mine explained it to me is that there are 2 kinds of people in the IT world: suits and jeans -- and never the 'twain shall meet.

          At the business end of the spectrum, you have the MBAs and the like, and the more expensive the suit you wear, the more respect you get. Pick top-level executives from any company other than Google and a very few other technical companies, and you'll see what I mean. They will always wear expensive suits, and people who aspire to be in their position will d

        • "However, when dealing with the outside world, I believe it to be most respective and professional to wear professional attire that is appropriate to that correspondence."

          In this case, his primary purpose was recruiting. In particular, he wanted to recruit really smart people. Really smart people know that clothes are irrelevant to the job (unless the job is to model clothes or work at IBM). Thus, the appropriate professional attire is (drum roll please) jeans and a t-shirt. Those are the clothes most l
      • You may want to consider how you're representing your company while you're lecturing.

        I don't know what Google's dress code is, but I do know that when, say, Oracle sends a consultant out to help with setpup/problem resolution, etc. they usually show up in business-casual attire - khakis and a button-down shirt with their Logo.

        Again, I don't know what Google's stance is on dress. They may be perfectly fine with Jeans and a T-Shirt.

        • Google's dress code is basically "just don't wear flip-flops everyday".

          • That is much more restrictive than I had imagined. And no, I am not kidding. I work in a computer company that's been around a whole lot longer and has a much less hip image, and you can wear flip flops every single day in the HQ.
            • by Skreems (598317) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:48PM (#15695583) Homepage
              That's an interesting point. I think a lot of companies are actually that way. I work for *undisclosed faceless corporation* and people show up here in shorts and birkenstocks. A guy on our team walks around the offices barefoot. Invader Zim posters, figurines, calendars of cheerleaders, etc. are all over the place. You could show up in flip flops if you wanted to... but people choose not to. There's something about that Google mentality that sounds neat at first, but then you realize that you're not in college anymore, and even though you CAN wear flip flops to work, you probably don't want to.

              So is it neat to have a trendy office space? Sure. Is it neat to have communal centres scattered around the building, and be encouraged to stay afterhours to play games? I guess. But it's the kind of thing that gets old once you realize you've got a family and a life outside of work. Working for Google sounds like working in a basement with a bunch of friends, but that only really works if you don't have other things you want to be devoting time to. Once their workforce matures a bit, I'd guess their "kooky, trippy workspace" won't work quite so well. Don't forget, they're still basically a glorified startup. I'm sure Microsoft had a lot of the same feel back in '86.
              • "You could show up in flip flops if you wanted to... but people choose not to.
                ...
                But it's the kind of thing that gets old once you realize you've got a family and a life outside of work."

                Funny you should say that - my project manager was wearing sandals today and I didn't think much of it... There's a guy who turns up in clogs and nobody thinks it especially out of the ordinary :)
                (we're the London office of a large multinational media agency/software house)

                But no, that's by the by: The thing I rea

                • Exactly my point. Your manager can show up in clogs, nobody cares. YOU can show up in clogs, and nobody cares, but being able to show up in clogs isn't something you care about. This non-stop "google is teh awesomex" just because they have a casual work environment is stupid. Lots of places have casual work environments, but Google has a bunch of new grads who take the relaxed work environment to very visible extremes.
                  • Hmm yes, but actually the point I should have been making, was that the casual work environment does notceably make people more relaxed and creative, as well as more willing to stay long hours when necessary.

                    For example, we have a flexible start time - I come in late quite a lot, not really being a 'morning person', but I leave later, enough to more than make up for it. Being a tester, I think this tends to actually benefit the project I'm working on, as the dev team will often put up a new build they've be

      • I totally agree, but must point out that not smelling bad scores points right across the board, computer guy or not _^^

        *has a quick sniff*

        Excuse me, just a second please.
      • I agree. And furthermore, it's been my general experience that the more professional a university lecturer dresses, the less you learn from them. One of the best Comp. Sci. lecturers I ever had was mistaken for a homeless guy (long ratty hair, ripped tshirt, no shoes, etc.) by about half the class until he stood up and introduced himself, but he was intelligent and able to teach very well. Those who dressed like professionals were staff who had left the professional world to come back to teaching, more ofte
        • was mistaken for a homeless guy (long ratty hair, ripped tshirt, no shoes, etc.) by about half the class until he stood up and introduced himself

          Your lecturer was RMS!?!
          • There are hundreds of guys fitting that description who hang around the Cambridge universities (MIT, Harvard...) I'm never sure if they're geniuses or homeless, but you can usually tell by asking them a question about Lisp. Not always, though - those homeless Lisp weenies are the worst!
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:18PM (#15694589) Homepage
      On the otherhand, I was very unimpressed with certain issues concerning lack of professionalism in the lecture. As one example, though this is only an impression, it seemed that he felt he could just get away with wearing jeans and a Google t-shirt for the few days that he was with us because he worked at the ever prestigious Google. It seemed a bit arrogant.
      Shock. Horror. The man was dressed comfortably in clean, casual clothes. That's your only complaint? Where are you from, Victorian England? Come join the rest of us in the 21st century. Arrogant? Arrogance would be whipping his thingy out and pissing on the front row. For casual dress to be arrogance it would be necessary for him to believe that a suit and tie is the only appropriate dress for such an occasion, and then intentionally not wear them as an insult. I doubt this was the case. Sounds to me more like the problem's with you and your slavish adherence to an increasingly outdated dress code.
      • by Phishcast (673016) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:10PM (#15694849)
        Perhaps "arrogant" wasn't the right word for the poster to use, but I can see where he's coming from with this. If you're presenting at a prestigious institution (or one that considers itself such) you should show a little respect for that institution by dressing it up a bit. A tie wouldn't be necessary, but ditching the jeans and wearing a button up shirt (or a polo shirt even) seems like it would be in order.

        I'm a computer guy, I wear jeans to work every day, and I'm happy that way. If I'm being asked to speak in front of a large group of people I don't grab something out of the hamper, y'know?

        • I agree. I work in a location where the dress code is basically no massive holes in your shirt and no shorts (and you can get away with holes), but as I'm dealing with the public I still generally wear a Polo shirt and a decent pair of jeans. I've even worn a button-down shirt a few times which is serious overkill, though that's because all my Polos were dirty at the time. I'll wear a tee once in a while, but it's something work-appropriate, unlike some other people that work where I do (ranging from sli
      • Arrogant? Arrogance would be whipping his thingy out and pissing on the front row.

        Considering that Google has 450,000 servers, that would be one massive e-penis, from which I would gladly accept the gUrine.
    • On the otherhand, I was very unimpressed with certain issues concerning lack of professionalism in the lecture. As one example, though this is only an impression, it seemed that he felt he could just get away with wearing jeans and a Google t-shirt for the few days that he was with us because he worked at the ever prestigious Google. It seemed a bit arrogant. Also keep in mind that his position at google is higher than a solutions engineer.

      Maybe in a presentation environment, but in a work environment Go


    • On the otherhand, I was very unimpressed with certain issues concerning lack of professionalism in the lecture.

      Congratulations, you are NOT qualified to be a Google employee. In some industries, wearing particular clothes is not the definition of professionalism. Google is in such an industry.

      You want a job in accounting. Or at EDS.

    • No, arrogant is when you call people arrogant for being casual, not caring about maintaining a (false) image, &c. See: Definition of irony.
    • However there were still limitations to what he would/could tell us (sorry I won't go into specifics).

      Funny, I didn't notice anyone ask.
    • ... lack of professionalism... it seemed that he felt he could just get away with wearing jeans and a Google t-shirt for the few days that he was with us

      Hold on, you're a student, and you're accusing someone of lack of professionalism?
      Do you not just think he was trying to make everyone comfortable? Or were all you students in suits/ties etc and so he stood out?
      Get over yourself, you're just another student. I'm sure if he had been presenting on Wall Street he'd have dressed in a suit.

  • Post-Beta (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kesch (943326) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:01PM (#15694506)
    From TFA:
    On the other hand, Google doesn't hesitate to create applications for internal use and put them on its own server grid. If the company's software engineers think they can tinker up something to make themselves more productive--for example, a custom-built project tracking system--Merrill doesn't stand in their way.


    If it is anything like their web-presence, half the stuff must have 'Beta' appended to it.

    New GPayRoll-Beta!
    • They use Oracle Financials on your typical "five-9s" hardware.
      They had a big fight switching to that, before that they were using (drum roll please), QUICKEN!!! (lol)

      Although the HR apps are custom written. Exciting :3
      • Google had 200 employees and $20 million in revenue
        That was a very small size company to be investing in Oracle Financials, so I suppose the interesting things are (a) that they were planning ahead, so that they weren't hampered by an inadequate finance system and (b) they could raise the money to finance the purchase.
  • I was interested in working for Google -- mostly for a job. I even had someone from inside recommend me -- I figured I'd be in, no problem. Rather than being interviewed for my skills, or the relevant department, they interviewed me for a sysadmin. No problem, I'm a sysadmin I thought. I didn't do the CS route at a university, though, and there were some highly relevant things that I just didn't know how to answer. I didn't pass round two.

    So I tried to get another interview for a while, but no bites. Goog
    • by panaceaa (205396) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:54PM (#15694778) Homepage Journal
      What background do you have in software development? Currently Google interviews people for "core basics", which are the basic skills you would learn by going to university or trade school in the field related to your position. For example, when interviewing for the Java Developer Software Engineering position, you'll get a lot of questions about the collections library, synchronization, and core computer science questions like semaphores and two-phase commit. My experience with Java, and I know I'd completely fail a system administration interview.

      Perhaps you should have informed your recruiter about your background?
    • Methinks, I hear a 'sour grapes' excuse here...

      Regards,

      MBC1977,
      (US Marine, College Student, and Good Guy!)
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:18PM (#15694584)
    > "Sorry, we don't talk about our infrastructure." Yet, Google engineers crack the door open wider when addressing computer science audiences, such as rooms full of graduate students whom it is interested in recruiting.'"

    So the question to ask is: Who is `we'? I could provide an answer. `We' here, is Google's official answer to such questions from the ever inquisitive press men. Those who speak on behalf of Google have been asked to memorize that answer if they do not wish to talk about a topic. It works well. This approach reminds me of the government's `We can neither confirm nor deny...' mantra.

    What follows next could be interpreted as a Google engineer's answer to a question, which answer may simply represent one of many possible implementations and NOT one you could find supporting Googles infrastructure.

    Guys, this is all about semantics and context. Good night!

  • by Van Cutter Romney (973766) <sriram,venkataramani&geemail,com> on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:27PM (#15694644)
    In other news, Google has started tagging new employees on probation with 'BETA' labels.
  • by leandrod (17766) <l AT dutras DOT org> on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:46PM (#15694741) Homepage Journal
    Everyone is talking about GoogleFS. But no one is talking about how they manage structured data. How do they do it? Some SQL stuff, some homegrow potion, or have they managed to create a sensible interface for structured data on top of GoogleFS?
    • I'm gonna take a stab at this, just because I spend a fair bit of time thinking about how to do this kind of thing. It's hard for me to imagine how google does what it does, and finding a small amount of data in a absolutely massive system spread across thousands of servers... this is an interesting topic to ponder.

      I would bet that they manage structured data within the filesystem itself - in fact, i think thats the ONLY way they could do it. I started going into detail in this post, but it started being
    • As long as standards are maintained, each server is configured correctly, and the infrastructure is theirs, isn't it really just a matter of what you can develop as an addition? Until they create a new version or release that utilizes a different infrastructure to support new standards and add more functionality wouldn't it be repetitive and a matter of what server controlled which processes?. Or they just create new hardware that utilizes the services provided by their web presence. Specific servers would
  • This is probably just another Google Publicity Stunt. I've worked at several of the top companies, and its just "people" that work there, not much more "intelligent" or better than others who choose a lower profile, more fun and probably more lucrative environment to work in. Who has any information to prove it otherwise?

    mb
  • go to the source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adpowers (153922) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:00PM (#15694809)
    Here are some good papers [google.com] about Google's technologies:
    Sawzall [google.com] (simplified scripting on top of MapReduce)
    MapReduce [google.com] (Google's massively parallel system based on the concept found in functional programming. The system takes care of managing jobs, parallelism, and fault tolerance, allowing engineers to more quickly produce code.)
    GFS [google.com] (Google's File System)
    Google's Cluster [google.com] (An older paper describing how Google's search cluster works. The cluster described in this paper is a few generations out of date.)
    BigTable [andrewhitchcock.org] (Google's semi-structured database. There haven't been any papers released, but this is my write up based on a talk given in October 2005.)

    And here are some videos:
    The Google Linux Cluster [washington.edu]. This is an older video where Urs Hoelzle talks about their system and focuses more on the hardware side of things.
    Google: A Behind-the-scenes Look [washington.edu]. Jeff Dean gives an overview of most of the technologies mentioned in papers above. I thought the demonstration of Google's internal word clustering was interesting (and funny).
    Perspectives on the Information Industry [washington.edu]. This is a technology-light (IIRC) talk given by Eric Schmidt.
    BigTable: A Distributed Structured Storage System [washington.edu]. The talk from which I created my BigTables notes (above).

    Andrew
  • An Inside Look at Google [google.com]

    Hey guys, watch it, it's about the women at Google! ;-)

    I guess now we have yet another reason to go there. :-p
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Monday July 10, 2006 @11:30PM (#15695709) Homepage
    I went through the majority of the process (phone interviews, then the face time at the New York facility and a trip to California) before I told them I wasn't interested in the job. My reasons for turning them down were three. First, the 80/20 deal was a myth if you were going to pursue something they were really interested in. I wanted to complete my PhD. Now, this PhD was not in a field they cared much about (despite their glaring need of my skills for one particular service), so that part of the deal was mumbled everytime it was mention. Second, the pay wasn't good enough to basically live at the facility. Third, the interview process was abusive in many respects. The first phone call was with a guy consumed by asking me about my doctoral research and my knowledge of how inodes work. He kept shifting between the two. When I asked him why this was even necessary given the position I was applying for, he got irritated and said that you had to know the ins-and-outs of how a file system works in order to configure (something I wouldn't be doing) any part of their infrastructure.

    This lead to my observation of part of their file storage system which is quite possibly the most tweaked NFS nightmare/genius/what-the-fuck I'd ever seen. My past experience with networked file system was, I admit, very limited compared to what they had going on. Now, again, I wasn't even going to have anything to do with this system or any sysadmin work at all, but it was obvious that they wanted you to at least have knowledge of the system on some level beyond the user. It also came across as a showing-off culture too. I am glad I didn't take the job for various reasons, but if you are a sysadmin freaker who loves dinking with shit, you'd fit in; especially if you like to show it off too. Just be prepared to have some middle manager there fuck with you for a hour or two on the phone before you get to the outer part of the inner sanctum.
  • Little in the way of structuring data
    by leandrod (17766)

    Everyone is talking about GoogleFS. But no one is talking about how they manage structured data. How do they do it? Some SQL stuff, some homegrow potion, or have they managed to create a sensible interface for structured data on top of GoogleFS?
    --
    Leandro Guimar&#227;es Faria Corcete DUTRA
    DA, DBA, SysAdmin, Data Modeller
    GNU Project, Debian GNU/Linux

    ----------8<----------

    Wild Guess&#174; ?
    Rob Pike?

    http://herpolhode.com/rob/

    http://plan9.bell-la
    • Everyone is talking about GoogleFS. But no one is talking about how they manage structured data. How do they do it?

      Everyone??? Oh, I get it, you mean everyone who didn't bother to RTFA. Makes sense now. You and that other guy taking his wild guesses at building a file system (with zero background) ought to compare notes. Ha ha ha. I mean, why have half an unsubstantiated 'conversation' when you could have the real, unsubstantiated, deal?

      I know, I know, nobody is supposed to read the article. But, in th

  • They sell Google-in-a-box appliances without root access or source. If it contains Red Hat Linux isn't it a violation of GPL?
  • What are Googleplex's similarities with the Borg cube? does it repair itself when a node goes down? is it possible to bring the whole system down by injecting a false command in a node? etc
  • Am I the only one who got the feeling that the entire article was one big babble about things everybody who reads any given daily newspapers knows? Amazing how one can craete an entire article that says absolutely nothing.
  • "With his unruly hair dipping across his forehead, Douglas Merrill walks up to the lectern set up in a ballroom of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, looking like a slightly rumpled university professor about to start a lecture."

    This sounds more like the beginning of some Harlequin romance novel than the first line of a serious piece of journalism. The sentence even manages to run-on and has a simile. I expect that by the end of the article his hairy chest will be bared by the protagonist and that they wi

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"

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