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7/28/2008
03:45 PM
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Cuil Runs Too Hot On Opening Day

The creators of Cuil have garnered a good bit of buzz today with their new search engine that sifts through 120 billion Web pages, reportedly three times the number Google searches. Now if only the Cuil folks can find a way to ensure that their search engine performs while under pressure.

The creators of Cuil have garnered a good bit of buzz today with their new search engine that sifts through 120 billion Web pages, reportedly three times the number Google searches. Now if only the Cuil folks can find a way to ensure that their search engine performs while under pressure.I joined the millions trying out the new search engine today, but after some initial success I didn't get very far. I put in a search term and was presented with results in a page layout that was certainly prettier than Google's list format.

But I was still thinking about the pros and cons of Cuil's layout when I clicked on p. 2 of my search. Nothing. I tried a few more times and got error messages. I left the site and tried to come back, but got this apology: "Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity. Thanks for your patience."

A bit hot indeed. Google grew gradually and was able to ramp up its server capacity at the same time, but Cuil may have gotten a bit more attention than it bargained for on opening day. It's the downside of online success -- just ask any popular retailer doing business online during the Christmas shopping season. They've had to learn through trial and error how to prepare for the season and make adjustments to server capacity for the following year.

But the opening-day onslaught presents an interesting pickle for Cuil -- if you work all night the next three days throwing more servers at the problem, will the minions be just as interested next week, when the hype dies down?

While Google has much more going on than its search engine business, it's got server capacity galore and continues to add to it. Like the $600 million data center it's building in Iowa that will house thousands of servers, and additional centers under construction in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oklahoma. Cuil, meanwhile, is living off $33 million in venture capital -- that's an admirable chunk of VC fundage, but nothing compared to Google's deep pockets for funding server capacity.

I'm looking forward to playing around with Cuil, once it's working better. I'll try back in a few days or so.

Meanwhile, I'd be interested in hearing the firsthand experiences of those who HAVE been able to get onto Cuil, in the comments box below.

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