How Big is Google?

Google’s recent FTTH announcement generated a wave of media coverage and industry discussion. Responses ranged from exuberant local communities racing to sign up to anti-competitive howls from incumbent carriers.

Industry pundits wondered what is Google up to? What will the search giant do with 1Gbps to the home? And more ominously, is Google getting too big?

While this blog post won’t explore the politics / strategy behind Google’s FTTH initiative (except to suggest Google should choose Ann Arbor), we will share some data on Google’s relative size and growth from a global Internet perspective.

Google is big.

And by “big”, I mean really big. If Google were an ISP, it would be the fastest growing and third largest global carrier. Only two other providers (both of whom carry significant volumes of Google transit) contribute more inter-domain traffic. But unlike most global carriers (i.e. the “tier1s”), Google’s backbone does not deliver traffic on behalf of millions of subscribers nor thousands of regional networks and large enterprises. Google’s infrastructure supports, well, only Google.

Based on anonymous data from 110 ISPs around the world, we estimate Google contributes somewhere between 6-10% of all Internet traffic globally as of the of summer of 2009.

The below graph shows the weighted average percentage of all Internet traffic contributed by Google ASNs between June 2007 and July 2009. Most of Google’s rapid growth comes after the acquisition of YouTube in 2007.


Google's Contribution to Global Internet Traffic

Before getting much further, a few words about what we’re measuring. Traffic volumes provide only the most indirect measure of a network’s size or popularity (for example, it takes tens of thousands of Tweets to match the bandwidth of a single HD video). Our anonymous data also does not include internal provider services (e.g. IPTV or VPN) nor data served from co-located caches within provider data centers. Rather, we’re measuring inter-domain traffic, i.e. the traffic between providers (the “inter” in “Internet”).

With all of the above said, inter-domain traffic volumes provide a key metric for understanding Internet topology and the evolution of Internet traffic patterns.

But even traffic volumes tell only part of the story.

The competition between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other large content players has long since moved beyond just who has the better videos or search. The competition for Internet dominance is now as much about infrastructure — raw data center computing power and about how efficiently (i.e. quickly and cheaply) you can deliver content to the consumer.

And here again, Google is at the head of the pack.

In 2007, Google used transit providers for the majority of their Internet traffic (including Level(3)). But over the last three years, Google both built out their global data center and content distribution capability as well as aggressively pursued direct interconnection with most consumer networks.

The graph below shows an estimate of the average percentage of Google traffic per month using direct interconnection (i.e. not using a transit provider). As before, this estimate is based on anonymous statistics from 110 providers. In 2007, Google required transit for the majority of their traffic. Today, most Google traffic (more than 60%) flows directly between Google and consumer networks.


google_peering

But even building out millions of square feet of global data center space, turning up hundreds of peering sessions and co-locating at more than 60 public exchanges is not the end of the story.

Over the last year, Google deployed large numbers of Google Global Cache (GGC) servers within consumer networks around the world. Anecdotal discussions with providers, suggests more than half of all large consumer networks in North America and Europe now have a rack or more of GGC servers.

So, after billions of dollars of data center construction, acquisitions, and creation of a global backbone to deliver content to consumer networks, what’s next for Google?

Well, I’m hoping for delivery of content directly to the consumer via a nice, fat 1 Gbps FTTH pipe.

Google, please choose Ann Arbor.

23 Responses to “How Big is Google?”

March 17, 2010 at 5:15 am, Googlenet dwarfs all but two of world’s ISPs « Digital Asylum said:

[…] handles more internet traffic than all but two of the world’s ISPs, according to data from network-security outfit Arbor […]

March 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm, Stat Shot: Google’s Growing Infrastructure Advantage – GigaOM said:

[…] Stat Shot: Google’s Growing Infrastructure Advantage By Stacey Higginbotham Mar. 17, 2010, 7:50am PDT No Comments            0 Google’s content comprises between 6 and 10 percent of global Internet traffic, making its internal network one of the top three ISPs in the world, according to Arbor Networks. The maker of deep packet inspection equipment, which runs a survey of international ISPs, detailed Google’s traffic in a blog post Tuesday. […]

March 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm, Análise mostra que Google já concentra boa parte do tráfego da Internet | Blog da UsStar said:

[…] relatório publicado pelo analista do Google Craig Labovitz no blog da Arbor Network mostra que o tráfego da Internet no mundo tem sido norteado por um número […]

March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm, jennifer said:

hi there,

would you be able to provide us with the actual numbers for both of the charts above. so for example, what’s the actual “weighted average percentage” of google internet traffic for 12/1/08?

and what’s the exact percent of google traffic using direct peering (i see it’s somewhere around 41%) for march 2009?

thanks so much.

March 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm, Google’s Growing Infrastructure Advantage | AniChaos.com said:

[…] Google’s content comprises between 6 and 10 percent of global Internet traffic, making its internal network one of the top three ISPs in the world, according to Arbor Networks. The maker of deep packet inspection equipment, which runs a survey of international ISPs, detailed Google’s traffic in a blog post Tuesday. […]

March 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm, Analysis: Google Is Building A Private Internet That’s So Much Better And Greener Than The Internet said:

[…] How big is Google? asks Arbor Networks. It’s a rhetorical question because Arbor knows, it sells network control and monitoring hardware used by the largest ISPs and corporations. […]

March 18, 2010 at 3:08 am, Quando o Google concentra parte do tráfego na web | Vida em Rede - Rafael Sbarai - VEJA.com said:

[…] em número de acessos nos Estados Unidos, o gigante de buscas mostrou suas garras. Por meio de um estudo produzido por um de seus analistas, o Google expôs em números que ainda domina boa parte do […]

March 18, 2010 at 9:04 am, Análise mostra que Google já concentra boa parte do tráfego da Internet | Notícias Tecnologia said:

[…] relatório publicado pelo analista do Google Craig Labovitz no blog da Arbor Network mostra que o tráfego da Internet no mundo tem sido norteado por um número […]

March 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm, E-Commerce News | Análise mostra que Google já concentra boa parte do tráfego da Internet said:

[…] relatório publicado pelo analista do Google Craig Labovitz no blog da Arbor Network mostra que o tráfego da Internet no mundo tem sido norteado por um número […]

March 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm, GBC: Google Broadcasting Co. — world unicaster « Google Monitor said:

[…] handles more internet traffic than all but two of the world’s ISPs, according to data from network-security outfit Arbor Networks.”  … “The difference, of course, is […]

March 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm, Почему Google должен стать вашим ISP « Mooltix said:

[…] по интернет-инфраструктуре из Arbor Networks опубликовали статистику, из которой совершенно ясно, что другого пути у Google […]

March 24, 2010 at 7:32 am, Google ocupa el 6% del tráfico en internet | CMT Blog said:

[…] datos de 110 proveedores de acceso a internet (ISP) para estimar cómo de grande es Google. Y las conclusiones son que si Google fuera un ISP, sería el tercero mayor del […]

March 24, 2010 at 6:41 pm, Google could be your next ISP | Inert Solutions said:

[…] network measurement expert Arbor Networks this week released a new report claiming that, if Google were an ISP, it would be the fastest growing carrier in the world and the […]

March 26, 2010 at 4:32 am, The Beast File: Google ('Hungry Beast', ABC TV) | LivingDesign said:

[…] I’m really concerned and worried about Google’s aims and ambitions. I always perceived Google (and Apple) as those who could actually challenge Microsoft’s monopoly in many areas but not as […]

April 02, 2010 at 2:17 pm, GBC: Google Broadcasting Co. — world unicaster « NetCompetition said:

[…] handles more internet traffic than all but two of the world’s ISPs, according to data from network-security outfit Arbor Networks.” … “The difference, of course, is […]

April 29, 2010 at 11:21 am, De la nube al tubo: We are not a telco! | CMT Blog said:

[…] Microsoft o Google, paradigmas del cielo de Internet, hace algún tiempo que entendieron que para dar el mejor servicio posible tenían que tener infraestructuras. En un artículo reciente, la compañía de seguridad en Internet Arbor Networks, destacaba en su blog que hasta 2007 Google utilizaba redes de tránsito ajenas, pero desde entonces ha destinado recursos para construir su propia infraestructura y alojarse en centrales o puntos de entrega de tráfico. El resultado, según Arbor Networks, es que cerca del 60% del tráfico de Google transita directamente por sus propias redes. […]

May 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm, Google as CDN - No Big Deal said:

[…] Craig Labovitz, at Arbor Networks, a company that makes packet inspection gear, released a great article about how much traffic Google serves. […]

July 11, 2010 at 2:02 pm, ¿De quién es la Red? « La guerra de los bits said:

[…] aún, parece ser que Google cada vez funciona más al estilo de Akamai, y no es la única que lo está haciendo, por lo cual en Internet el hablar de distancias cada vez […]

October 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm, Internet Evolution - IT Clan Editor's Blog - How Gigantic Google May Change the Internet said:

[…] has made a project of tracking Google's rise as an Internet superpower. In a blog post in March 2010, he pointed out that Google is getting bigger on the Net in part because it's doing […]

November 22, 2010 at 6:56 am, ipoque :: Blog said:

[…] network infrastructure — based on carried traffic — in the world, according to measurements by Arbor Networks. This goes along with a recent announcement by Google that they plan to roll out their own fiber […]

May 03, 2011 at 1:46 am, Google / Google Global Cache — для избранных | crowler-pcworld said:

[…] Global Cache (GGC) — одно из решений по оптимизации огромных объемов своего трафика на базе платформы CDN, да еще и с пользой […]

May 03, 2011 at 8:12 am, DieselxXx said:

Yeah, Google realy is big 🙂

July 25, 2011 at 10:35 am, engagement ring said:

wedding reception…

How Big is Google? | Security to the Core | Arbor Networks Security…

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