Amazon Ramps Server Count 33% - InformationWeek
Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
11:34 PM
Connect Directly
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Amazon Ramps Server Count 33%

Netcraft server survey spots growth spurt since Sept. 2012. It's unclear what portion is attributed to Amazon Web Services.

 Facebook's Futuristic Data Center: Inside Tour
Facebook's Futuristic Data Center: Inside Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow) and its Amazon Web Services unit appear to have hit a growth inflection point. Last September, became the largest hosting company in the world, based on the number of its Web-facing servers, as measured by online Web crawling and measurement firm Netcraft.

Eight months later, Netcraft reported in May, it had grown by more than 33%, to 158,000 servers.

The Netcraft survey is limited in how much it can see and must estimate the number of computers that operate behind the "Web-facing" servers of a given company. It says on its website that its counts miss those servers that don't respond directly to an HTTP call, such as the database servers, firewalls, proxy servers, load balancing servers and others that lie behind the ones it sees at a given address. It estimates that it counts about two-thirds of the servers in use at a large hosting service, such as Amazon.

[ Are you a cloud watcher? Check out 6 Cloud, Big Data Startups To Watch. ]

But the Netcraft counts do provide a relative measure of growth. Whatever Amazon's total server count, it increased by more than a third in a recent eight-month period. In 2009, Netcraft counted 4,600 servers at Four years later, it saw a 30-fold increase to the 158,000 figure.

How much of that increase can be attributed to retail, versus growth in AWS cloud services, can't be distinguished. Last year, the AWS unit represented (at most) 5% of's revenue.

Whatever the number of servers used by AWS, that number is probably dwarfed by Facebook, Google and one or two other Internet giants. Microsoft, for example, when it built a giant 700,000 square foot Azure data center outside Chicago, reported it had the capacity for 300,000 servers. It's never said how many servers have actually been installed. Microsoft, Google, Apple, and other companies all regard their total server count as a proprietary, closely held secret.

Facebook has filled its twin 330,000-square-foot "data halls" at its Prineville, Ore., complex. Each contains "tens of thousands of servers," according to the company. Together, they are roughly equal in square footage to Microsoft's Chicago center, but Prineville's design includes large air passageways with its passive cooling system design. A server at Prineville probably occupies a slightly larger average footprint in terms of overall building space than one in a data center with air conditioners. If the Prineville buildings are fully equipped, they still probably don't reach Microsoft's 300,000 count.

For the record, Netcraft counted 19,100 Web-facing servers at the Azure cloud's address in its July report, but Microsoft executives have previously said its Chicago data center hosts Bing search, Sharepoint application collaboration services, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM software-as-a-service, and other services that don't necessarily show up with an Azure address. The total server count is probably much higher.

Perhaps a better measure of comparison is the number of websites being hosted by the cloud servers. For Azure, Netcraft found 170,000 websites hosted on those 19,100 servers in its July count. For, it found 11.6 million hosted on the 158,000 servers in May. That may be a clearer measures of the lead AWS has established among cloud providers.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll