Did you know that Google evolved from a project originally called BackRub? Well it did, and what Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t realize when they were working on their fateful project was that they were beginning a company that would undertake one of the most immense aspirations to hit the internet age: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google is known first and foremost for its search engine, but the company has obviously expanded out to cover a myriad of internet-age needs. Its email and file-sharing service is among the most used in the world, and its autonomous cars are getting daily attention in the media and basically disrupting the entire transportation industry.
Overlooked but equally important is Google’s cloud computing software. Apple and Microsoft offer similar products, as does Amazon. But Google has a reputation for building enormous data centers, like the one in Dallas, Oregon, which hosts multiple buildings the size of a football field. But what happens inside those enormous facilities?
To answer that question, we’ll first have to briefly describe what cloud computing actually is. Beyond its buzzword status, it refers to a model for remote computer access of information. Instead of needing to have all your information stored onto your personal device, you can store it on a remote server and use your computer’s internet connection to access it at any time. You can influence the application and execute commands through your Web browser, but the heavy lifting is reserved for the server, which is in a safe place and generally more powerful and reliable than your personal device.
Cloud computing also allows users to execute applications that may not otherwise run on their personal computer. Because client-side cloud computing application programming generally places animal demands on your personal machine’s resources, you can enjoy the functioning level of a high-quality machine without actually investing in one.
Another major selling point? With cloud computing, you can access your data from multiple devices. You don’t have to upload your entire music library onto your new computer or keep juggling which songs to upload to your mobile phone; you can just access your entire library all that time. This keeps you from having to duplicate files, email files to yourself, and all the other sloppy file sharing techniques that non-users of cloud computing have to deal with.
So what’s Google’s edge over its competitors? Well for one, it’s a very stable, established company that users feel that they can trust. It has among the best engineers on the planet and a history of innovations without major problems.
But what is the cloud? Its a host of servers that Google pays for and maintains within its facilities. Often these servers aren’t actually state-of-the-art, simply because then they would be more difficult to replace when they inevitably fail. Plus, cheaper servers means Google can dedicate multiple servers to the same function, effectively creating a multi-layered failsafe should a server break.
Google cloud’s foundation is the Google File system, which is simply a distributed computing system that organizes and sends out information through basic file commands.