New Case Studies About Google’s Use of Go

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Go started in September 2007 when Robert Griesemer, Ken Thompson, and I began discussing a new language to address the engineering challenges we and our colleagues at Google were facing in our daily work. The software we were writing was typically a networked server—a single program interacting with hundreds of other servers—and over its lifetime thousands of programmers might be involved in writing and maintaining it. But the existing languages we were using didn't seem to offer the right tools to solve the problems we faced in this complex environment.

So, we sat down one afternoon and started talking about a different approach.

When we first released Go to the public in November 2009, we didn’t know if the language would be widely adopted or if it might influence future languages. Looking back from 2020, Go has succeeded in both ways: it is widely used both inside and outside Google, and its approaches to network concurrency and software engineering have had a noticeable effect on other languages and their tools.

Go has turned out to have a much broader reach than we had ever expected. Its growth in the industry has been phenomenal, and it has powered many projects at Google.
Credit to Renee French for the gopher illustration.

The earliest production uses of Go inside Google appeared in 2011, the year we launched Go on App Engine and started serving YouTube database traffic with Vitess. At the time, Vitess’s authors told us that Go was exactly the combination of easy network programming, efficient execution, and speedy development that they needed, and that if not for Go, they likely wouldn’t have been able to build the system at all.

The next year, Go replaced Sawzall for Google’s search quality analysis. And of course, Go also powered Google’s development and launch of Kubernetes in 2014.

In the past year, we’ve posted sixteen case studies from end users around the world talking about how they use Go to build fast, reliable, and efficient software at scale. Today, we are adding three new case studies from teams inside Google:
  • Core Data Solutions: Google’s Core Data team replaced a monolithic indexing pipeline written in C++ with a more flexible system of microservices, the majority of them written in Go, that help support Google Search.
  • Google Chrome: Mobile users of Google Chrome in lite mode rely on the Chrome Optimization Guide server to deliver hints for optimizing page loads of well-known sites in their geographic area. That server, written in Go, helps deliver faster page loads and lowered data usage to millions of users daily.
  • Firebase: Google Cloud customers turn to Firebase as their mobile and web hosting platform of choice. After joining Google, the team completely migrated its backend servers from Node.js to Go, for the easy concurrency and efficient execution.
We hope these stories provide the Go developer community with deeper insight into the reasons why teams at Google choose Go, what they use Go for, and the different paths teams took to those decisions.

If you’d like to share your own story about how your team or organization uses Go, please contact us.

By Rob Pike, Distinguished Engineer