How Google Does It

Drop by the website, click on "About Google," and you'll learn (in case you didn't know) that, "'Googol' is the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros. [In other words, it's a very large number.] Google is a company with a very large number of users, too, and a laser-like focus on finding the right answer for each and every one of them more than 200 million times a day."

A large number indeed. As is 200 million times a day. The more you learn about the company, the more apt its name is. For there are many, many large numbers that describe the company. A recent article in Technology Review by Simson Garfinkel examined how Google does what it does. It quoted Martin Farach-Colton, a professor of computer science at Rutgers University, who spent two years working at Google and who says that the company routinely understates its power: "'Google always reports much, much lower numbers than are true.' Whenever somebody from Google puts together a new presentation, he explained, the PR department vets the talk and hacks down the numbers.. 'We have 10,000-plus servers. That's plus a lot.'"

The explanation for the secrecy is that it's best to keep competitors and would-be competitors in the dark as to just what's involved in Google's work. The article notes that, "The facts may be seeping out. Last Thanksgiving, The New York Times reported that Google had crossed the 100,000-server mark. If true, that means Google is operating perhaps the largest grid of computers on the planet."

Even more impressive is how this came to be. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page began by scrounging around for nearly obsolete, hand-me-down computers at and around Stanford -- ones that were being replaced. These got networked together to provide the needed computing power. Google today operates in a similar fashion, stringing together large numbers of inexpensive computers.

The article discussed one other company that gets a lot of mileage out of a large number of computers -- despite a relatively modest staff size. That would be Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM  ) : "Akamai's network operates on the same complexity scale as Google's. Although Akamai has only 14,000 machines, those servers are located in 2,500 different locations scattered around the globe. The servers are used by companies like CNN and Microsoft to deliver Web pages. Just as Google's servers are used by practically everyone on the Internet today, so are Akamai's." Akamai's culture is described as open, compared to Google's closed nature.

What do you think about Google and Akamai? Let us know on ourGoogle andAkamai Technologies discussion boards -- we've got afree trial of our entire board community available right now.

LongtimeFoolcontributorSelena Maranjiandoes not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 507665, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2016 8:11:13 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:00 PM
AKAM $57.67 Up +0.94 +1.66%
Akamai Technologie… CAPS Rating: ****