Robert Cringely has a very interesting post about Google’s upcoming usage of shipping container-sized datacenters distributed around the world.
Two years ago Google had one data center. Today they are reported to have 64. Two years from now, they will have 300-plus. The advantage to having so many data centers goes beyond simple redundancy and fault tolerance. They get Google closer to users, reducing latency. They offer inter-datacenter communication and load-balancing using that no-longer-dark fiber Google owns. But most especially, they offer super-high bandwidth connections at all peering ISPs at little or no incremental cost to Google.
Wow, this is ingenious because it relates so well to this connected communities idea I’ve been talking about in the past. The idea here provides a global solution for Google by focusing on a local level. Each local datacenter addresses the needs of each local area and connected together they achieve a global solution. There is no way this speed and efficiency could be achieved if all of these datacenters were grouped together in one location in some big massive centralized datacenter. By distributing the datacenters around the world and creating a network with them, they have not only achieved far superior speeds but also much better fault tolerance (since other datacenters can pitch in to cover a neighboring area if something goes wrong with one).
This approach mirrors exactly with a connected community of people. Through the use of decentralization, they all work and address their needs on a local level but in doing so they are also able to solve problems on a global level, often at a speed with which they could never achieve through the use of a centralized approach.