Google has already achieved the enviable marketing distinction of turning its name into a verb. There's probably not an Internet user in the world (even Steve Ballmer) who hasn't accessed it frequently for search and mapping. But its enormous popularity and global reach place an unintended burden on the search giant: When it goes down, the entire Web is shaken.
That's exactly what happened on Thursday, May 14, when Google suffered a major failure. A routing error sent traffic to servers in Asia, creating what Google called "a traffic jam." No kidding. According to the company, 14 percent of its users experienced slowdowns or outages. Many accounts put the number of those inconvenienced quite a bit higher. And we can't even guess at how many people were seriously put out by subsequent outages including the Google Gmail failure last month. But this isn't the day to beat on Google or fret about the implications Google outages have for cloud computing.
[ For more on Google's long-term cloud play, see "Google at 11: Taking the battle to Microsoft" and "Google set to take on collaboration giants." | Is our Internet future in danger? See InfoWorld's special report on whether the Net's infrastructure can handle projected demand. ]
What got my attention this week was a study to be formally presented on Oct. 19 of Internet usage by Arbor Networks, which found that just 100 ASNs (autonomous system numbers) out of about 35,000 account for some 60 percent of traffic on the public Internet. Put another way, out of the 40,000 routed sites in the Internet, 30 large companies now generate and consume a disproportionate 30 percent of all Internet traffic, according to the two-year study.
Not surprisingly, the biggest kahuna of all the big kahunas is Google, which accounts for about 6 percent of all Internet traffic globally. The other big guys include Level3, LimeLight, Akamai, and Microsoft, in that order.