Google Instant, the Network Killer?

Google Instant – you mean it wasn’t fast enough before? As someone who’s certainly adapted with technology, I still consider myself “old school” enough that I’d rather finish my thought before someone/something starts guessing what I mean. But that’s not the issue I’m looking to address in this post …

Rather than the inundation with superfluous search results, I’m more intrigued by the possible network effect this could have, though I have to admit I could find myself in a whole new realm searching for things I never knew I was interested in. Just in case you haven’t tried it yet, Google Instant begins to immediately populate your browser window with search results as you type. Think of it as word completion on steroids. The result from a user perspective is constantly morphing results, and from a network perspective more bytes of data, returned over the network to your computer. Rather than a single search, which executes when hitting return, results fly back as you type.east inflatables blog

In a recent post by Denise Dubie the results of a test done by a software engineer at CA Technologies were documented. What I found most interesting is that the weapon of choice to assess the network impact was packet analysis software, since, as a purveyor and active user of packet analysis software myself, that is also what I would have highly recommended.  The results? Essentially a factor of 2 more data using Google Instant over Google “classic.” I decided to run a quick test myself, and I found about a factor of 3 difference. Close enough.

Doubling or tripling data should be troublesome, no? Well, it’s really all a matter of perspective. Though my very quick test resulted in about 50KB (kilobytes) of data being returned for my classic search and 150KB coming back for my instant search, I was also streaming Pandora at the same time, and although Pandora is pretty efficient, believe me, most of network traffic was from Pandora, not from Google.
So, unless users are going to be so enamored with Google Instant that they just sit there all day long and type in search criteria, network engineers need not be concerned. It’s still your streaming audio, video, and online gaming users (only at lunch time, of course!) who will remain your primary source of concern.

- Jay Botelho
Director of Product Management, WildPackets

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