from humble beginnings

Guess what this is?

High Level Architecture

It’s the high-level architecture of Google, taken from the seminal paper by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page. It makes for fascinating reading. Especially near the end, where they discuss scalability:

We have designed Google to be scalable in the near term to a goal of 100 million web pages. We have just received disk and machines to handle roughly that amount. All of the time consuming parts of the system are parallelize and roughly linear time. These include things like the crawlers, indexers, and sorters. We also think that most of the data structures will deal gracefully with the expansion. However, at 100 million web pages we will be very close up against all sorts of operating system limits in the common operating systems (currently we run on both Solaris and Linux). These include things like addressable memory, number of open file descriptors, network sockets and bandwidth, and many others. We believe expanding to a lot more than 100 million pages would greatly increase the complexity of our system.

emphasis mine. They really had no clue back then, eh?