How Google Backs Up the Internet Along With Exabytes of Other Data – High Scalability –

Raymond Blum leads a team of Site Reliability Engineers charged with keeping Google’s data secret and keeping it safe. Of course Google would never say how much data this actually is, but from comments it seems that it is not yet a yottabyte, but is many exabytes in size. GMail alone is approaching low exabytes of data.

Mr. Blum, in the video How Google Backs Up the Internet, explained common backup strategies don’t work for Google for a very googly sounding reason: typically they scale effort with capacity. If backing up twice as much data requires twice as much stuff to do it, where stuff is time, energy, space, etc., it won’t work, it doesn’t scale.  You have to find efficiencies so that capacity can scale faster than the effort needed to support that capacity. A different plan is needed when making the jump from backing up one exabyte to backing up two exabytes. And the talk is largely about how Google makes that happen.

No data loss, ever. Even the infamous GMail outage did not lose data, but the story is more complicated than just a lot of tape backup. Data was retrieved from across the stack, which requires engineering at every level, including the human.

Backups are useless. It’s the restore you care about. It’s a restore system not a backup system. Backups are a tax you pay for the luxury of a restore. Shift work to backups and make them as complicated as needed to make restores so simple a cat could do it.

You can’t scale linearly. You can’t have 100 times as much data require 100 times the people or machine resources. Look for force multipliers. Automation is the major way of improving utilization and efficiency.


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