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Google’s Urs Hölzle explained at Structure how the search giant has grown since he started, its use of containers and how workloads are moving to the cloud

Urs Holzle at Structure 2014. (c) Jakub Mosur

It’s pretty obvious to anyone following the cloud that Google is a pioneer in the realm of cloud computing, but for Urs Hölzle, SVP Technical Infrastructure and Google Fellow, foreseeing Google’s good fortune was out of the question when he first joined the company roughly twenty years ago.

“We were trying to survive to next Monday,” said Hölzle. “The focus was very short term.”

In the past, Google was concentrating on hardware in an effort to save money, but now the company’s tweaking with software to offset any financial burdens. While many people think about data centers as being physical objects, the biggest challenge facing organizations with data centers is how to make the complex machines useful and understandable for programmers.

This is where containers come to play, Hölzle explained, as Google uses containers to manage the multi-tenant workloads that allow for services like Gmail and the company’s advertisement system to function correctly. With the company open sourcing its simplified interface for managing Docker containers, Google hopes the general public will be open to rethinking infrastructure.

“It is clear that over the next decade or two, workloads are going to move to the cloud,” Hölzle said.

Similar to how the tech industry took notice of Google’s App Engine, the way the company has been public regarding containers is Google’s attempt to show the world how to do compute better.

“Automatic management is what’s going to win in the long term,” Hölzle said.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker