Googles never-ending search for new features has made its data center a star.
The data center—and all the spending that goes with it—could take the stage at Googles analyst day March 2. Why? Googles future growth now means making great features that can ultimately be monetized. That practice puts the burden on a search engines network of data centers.
"The capital were spending builds sophisticated hardware designed by the best computer scientists," Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said March 2, during Googles analyst day.
Right now, Googles in a heavy capital spending mode, at times doling out five times more than normal. Chief Financial Officer George Reyes said on Feb. 28 that "the lions share" of the companys increased spending is for the building blocks of data centers and new real estate to house its growing number of employees.
At an estimated $1 billion this year, Googles capital expenses can buy a lot of servers, switches and routers, and lease a lot of office space. Data centers are taking center stage as a new era for Google and other search engines, one in which its network and infrastructure are the star. Meanwhile, Reyes said Googles infrastructure will be increasingly important as the company expands the data centers and fiber-optics that go into its network that spans three continents.
Without network upgrades, Google cant roll out the enhanced search features. This is a relatively new focus. To search engines, the network has been most definitely in the background for the last decade as Internet search engines grew almost by accident. But now future growth will depend on its network. Googles "Big Daddy" network infrastructure update has, arguably, become the companys most significant-ever upgrade.
Big Daddy gets its name because of just how extensive it is. Google has rebuilt two core items: its data center, thousands of which are used to deliver Google features, and its crawlers, the primary way of discovering and cataloging Web sites.
After a few months of testing and feedback, Google engineer Matt Cutts in early February wrote of a Google data center getting the Big Daddy update every 10 days or so.
A version of Googles crawler using Mozillas Firefox Web browsing technology has become a regular visitor to Web sites.
Google is enormously secretive, so its not surprising the company wouldnt offer much substantive details on the Big Daddy rollout, other than to confirm that something is indeed afoot.
"We are working on a new index," spokesman Nate Tyler said. "We dont have anything new to share on the Big Daddy rollout other than were constantly working to improve the breadth, quality and freshness of the Google search index."
Microsoft also appears to have a major overhaul in the works.
According to the company, its planning in the next six months to have a search engine better than what market-leading Google has.
The quantum quality leap Microsoft intends requires changes to the core of its search network.
So whats in it for consumers and enterprises?
People are starting to notice the fundamental changes going on, including Web site operator Vacheh Joakim. And they like it.
Googles Big Daddy features seem a lot faster, and, Web masters note, a notorious opening used for search results skewing click fraud is now closed, said Joakim, operator of the Sarcasm Society Web site.
Also, the Google data centers seem to have triple the capacity as usual. That makes for speedier delivery of Google features.
"What it has done is to deliver improved search results, which has benefited my sites by removing more of the spam, and allowing good-quality sites to rise up in the rankings," Joakim noted.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt.
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