Luiz André Barroso doesn’t see Google’s data centers as data centers. He sees them as computers the size of warehouses.
Barroso is a distinguished engineer at Google and a former researcher at the once and future computer giants Compaq and Digital Equipment Corp. He helped pioneer multicore microprocessors — chips that are actually many chips — and together with Urs Hölzle, the man who oversaw the development of Google’s worldwide network of top-secret computing facilities, he wrote the definitive book on modern data center design. It’s called The Datacenter as a Computer, and it explains why today’s massive internet applications don’t run on an ordinary collection of servers. The entire data center, including its many servers, must be built to work as a whole.
“These new large data centers are quite different from traditional hosting facilities of earlier times,” Barroso and Hölzle wrote. “Large portions of the hardware and software resources in these facilities must work in concert to efficiently deliver good levels of internet service performance, something that can only be achieved by a holistic approach to their design and deployment. In other words, we must treat the data center itself as one massive warehouse-scale computer.”