Datacenters as computers: Google engineering & database research perspectives

Shivakumar Venkataraman, Divyakant Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this collaborative keynote address, we will share Google's experience in building a scalable data infrastructure that leverages datacenters for managing Google's advertising data over the last decade. In order to support the massive online advertising platform at Google, the data infrastructure must simultaneously support both transactional and analytical workloads. The focus of this talk will be to highlight how the datacenter architecture and the cloud computing paradigm has enabled us to manage the exponential growth in data volumes and user queries, make our services highly available and fault tolerant to massive datacenter outages, and deliver results with very low latencies. We note that other Internet companies have also undergone similar growth in data volumes and user queries. In fact, this phenomenon has resulted in at least two new terms in the technology lexicon: big data and cloud computing. Cloud computing (and datacenters) have been largely responsible for scaling the data volumes from terabytes range just a few years ago to now reaching in the exabyte range over the next couple of years. Delivering solutions at this scale that are fault-tolerant, latency sensitive, and highly available requires a combination of research advances with engineering ingenuity at Google and elsewhere. Next, we will try to answer the following question: is a datacenter just another (very large) computer? Or, does it fundamentally change the design principles for data-centric applications and systems. We will conclude with some of the unique research challenges that need to be addressed in order to sustain continuous growth in data volumes while supporting high throughput and low latencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1720-1721
Number of pages2
JournalProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science(all)

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