Server Sprawl Continues

Data Center Knowledge reports an interesting survey from Netcraft where the firm has developed a technique for identifying the number of computers (rather than IP addresses) acting as web servers on the internet, and attributes these computers to hosting locations through reverse DNS lookups. This provides an independent view with a consistent methodology worldwide on the numbers of web servers, the rate of growth over time, and the operating systems and web server technology used at each hosting company worldwide..

Through an analysis of public reports and Netcraft server count report, Data Center Knowledge developed a list of organizations with a large number of servers. Here are some of the largest:

The Data Center Knowledge article goes on to speculate on degree of server sprawl at some of the more secretive firms:

  • Google: There’s a widely circulated estimate of 450,000 servers, but that number is at least three years old. If it was ever accurate, it certainly isn’t anymore, given Google’s data center building spree. Google’s recently revealed container data center holds more than 45,000 servers, and that’s a single facility built in 2005.
  • Microsoft: There’s actually some numbers on Microsoft’s server count, but it’s also dated. Screen shots from the company’s data center management software suggest that Microsoft was running about 218,000 servers in mid-2008. The company’s new Chicago container farm will hold up to 300,000 servers, so the count will change rapidly when that facility is deployed.
  • Amazon: Amazon says very little about its data center operations, but we know that it bought $86 million in servers from Rackable in 2008, and stores 40 billion objects in its S3 storage service.
  • eBay: With more than 160 million active users between its online auction house and PayPal payment service, and 443 million users on Skype, eBay has a massive data center infrastructure. The company houses more than 8.5 petabytes of data in huge data warehouses. We’re not certain what kind of server count this requires, but it’s certainly in the 50,000 club.
  • Yahoo: The third major search portal likely has more than 50,000 servers in operation to support its large free hosting operation as well as its paid hosting service and Yahoo Stores.
  • GoDaddy: It’s the world’s largest domain registrar with more than 35 million domains under management, but effective cross-selling of its hosting plans has also made GoDaddy one of the largest shared hosting operations in the world. It’s infrastructure is probably similar in scope to that of 1&1 Internet.
  • HP/EDS: While server “ownership” is less distinct with system integrators, EDS has an enormous data center operation. Company documents say EDS is managing 380,000 servers in 180,000 data centers.
  • IBM: With more than 8 million square feet of data center space, IBM also houses an enormous number of servers in its data centers, both for itself and its customers.
  • Facebook: Facebook says only that it has more than 10,000 servers, but it’s been saying that since April 2008 and it’s now serving 200 million users and hosting at least 40 billion photos. Facebook is clearly way beyond 10,000 servers.

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