Designing Server Networks Like Hard Disks

Paragraph extracted from Why is Microsoft Threatening Linux by John C. Dvorak:

Google Google Google Dept.: I’m wondering exactly why Google is now promoting its monster data centers when in the past it has kept these behemoths a secret. The latest one is a $600 million data farm on 800 acres in Pryor, Oklahoma. Two similar-size monsters are planned in nearby states. A lot of people do not realize that Google’s architecture is based on cheap PCs running Linux and a customized networking system interlinking them. This design has galled and hurt the companies that make big iron servers, since Google’s solution is cheaper and just as reliable. Well, at least it is as reliable as any PC. The actual beauty of the architecture is that if one of the PCs craps out and dies in the grid, it is just left there to rot. There is no need to swap it out. (This eliminates the need for a lot of workers, too.) This is similar in concept to a hard drive, where bad sectors are simply mapped out of existence. Slick.

Wow… Left there to rot. And designing the architecture analogous to a hard drive is ingenious! Proves that it’s always to engineer something to fit one’s personal specific requirement. It’s a more challenging route compared to purchasing Commercial Of The Shelf (COTS) items of course. But the end product is definitely much more impressive.


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