Moore's Lobby Podcast

Ep. 27 | Two Google Senior VPs of Engineering: From Shipping Containers to Today’s Data Centers

Episode #27 / 58:49 / June 22, 2021 by Dave Finch

As Google’s risen from just a search engine to becoming the world’s gateway to the internet, Luiz Barroso and Amin Vahdat have shown just how important EEs are to the hardware and compute side of a fully connected world that relies on data centers. Come for the insights. Stay for the terrible circuit puns.

Google is one of the most prominent corporations in history. Since its founding in 1998, it's gone from a scrappy startup in Silicon Valley to the portal through which most people access the internet. 

How do you even begin to design compute infrastructure that massive?

This week on Moore's Lobby, Dave chats with TWO Google Senior VPs of Engineering, Google Fellows Luiz Barroso and Amin Vahdat. 

In this conversation, you'll hear about the early days of Google, back when their data centers were barely more than broom closets and the team was "unencumbered by expertise" in data center design. You'll hear about the off-the-wall iterations of their early data center ideas (like that time Google put their data centers into shipping containers, which is way more reasonable than it may sound at first). You'll hear about the incredible promise of the applications Google's tackling today—and the costs that come with that world-changing power.

On the way, you'll learn more about two electrical engineers who came from very different backgrounds, pursued different specialties in academia, and yet ended up working together on some of the most extraordinary challenges facing compute in the modern era.

This episode will illuminate the past and future of Google from the engineering side and how “healthy hubris” leads to "a healthy disregard for the impossible.”


A Big Thank You to This Episode's Sponsors





Meet Luiz Barroso and Amin Vahdat

Luiz Barroso

Luiz André Barroso is a Google Fellow leading the office of Cross-Google Engineering (XGE) from where he coordinates key technical initiatives that span multiple Google products. Over his two decades at Google he has worked as a VP of Engineering in the Core and Maps teams, and was a technical leader in areas such as Google Search and the design of Google’s computing platform.



Luiz has published several technical papers and has co-authored “The Datacenter as a Computer”, the first textbook to describe the architecture of warehouse-scale computing systems, now in its 3rd edition. Luiz is a Fellow of the ACM and the AAAS, and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro and a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California. Recently he was awarded the 2020 Eckert-Mauchly Award.


Amin Vahdat

Amin Vahdat is an Engineering Fellow and Vice President for Systems Infrastructure at Google, where his team is responsible for Compute (Google Compute Engine, Borg/Cluster Scheduling, Operating Systems and Kernel), Platforms (TPUs, Accelerators, Servers, Storage, and Networking), and Network Infrastructure (Datacenter, Campus, RPC, and End Host network software). Until 2019, he was the Area Technical Lead for networking at Google, responsible for Google's Technical Infrastructure roadmap in collaboration with peers in Compute, Storage, and Hardware. Vahdat is active in Computer Science research, with more than 41,000 citations to over 200 refereed publications across cloud infrastructure, software defined networking, data consistency, operating systems, storage systems, data center architecture, and optical networking.



In the past, he was the SAIC Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego and the Director of UCSD’s Center for Networked Systems. Vahdat received his PhD from UC Berkeley in Computer Science, is an ACM Fellow and a past recipient of the NSF CAREER award, UC Berkeley Distinguished EECS Alumni Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Duke University David and Janet Vaughn Teaching Award. Most recently, Amin was awarded the SIGCOMM lifetime achievement award for his groundbreaking contributions to data center and wide area networks.