A study published by researchers at the University of Southern California unintentionally discovered Google has dramatically increased the number of sites and ISPs it uses to serve client queries.
According to the findings, between October 2012 and July 2013, Google increased the number of locations serving its search infrastructure from less than 200 to more than 1,400, as well as growing the number of ISPs it uses from a little over 100 to more than 850.
From the study:
Most of this expansion reflects Google utilizing client networks (such as Time Warner Cable, for example) that it already relied on for hosting content like videos on YouTube, and reusing them to relay – and speed up – user requests and responses for search and ads.
“Google already delivered YouTube videos from within these client networks,” said the study’s lead author and USC PhD student Matt Calder, “But they’ve abruptly expanded the way they use the networks, turning their content-hosting infrastructure into a search infrastructure as well.”
After creating a way to track and map Google’s servers, the USC research team’s original intention was to study the relationship between Google’s server locations and its clients. The researchers claim they “just happened” to be researching Google’s search infrastructure when the company made its move to expand its search sites in ten months time.
The study was presented last week at the SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference in Spain. The research team behind the findings said Google’s strategy has a number of benefits, “Users have a better web browsing experience, ISPs lower their operational costs by keeping more traffic local, and Google is able to deliver its content to Web users quicker.”
(Image credit: University of Southern California)