PHOENIX – You may know Go Daddy primarily for its edgy and humorous Super Bowl ads. But when it comes to the Internet infrastructure supporting the 52 million domain names it manages, Go Daddy is all business.
“We handle 10 billion DNS queries a day,” said Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman. “A good chunk of the Internet resolves because of us.”
Go Daddy is best known for selling domains, but is also one of the world’s largest providers of web hosting services, as well as the security certificates that enable e-commerce on millions of web sites. To keep those services online and running smoothly, Go Daddy operates a global network of data centers and points of presence (PoPs).
Focused on Phoenix
The core of Go Daddy’s infrastructure is focused on the Phoenix region, where it operates three major data centers, as well as network operating centers that monitor its global operations. The company also has data centers in Los Angeles, Chicago and Ashburn, Virginia, along with international facilities in Amsterdam and Singapore.
Data Center Knowledge recently went inside the company’s huge primary data center in Phoenix, and had a chance to discuss Go Daddy’s approach to its infrastructure. The access marked a change, as Go Daddy has historically said little about its data centers. It’s part of a concerted effort to present a fuller picture of the company’s services.
“I think we helped popularize the domain name,” said Adelman. “Everyone knows us from domains, but less so from hosting. We’re the world’s largest paid hosting company, and we need to let people know about that.”
Go Daddy currently hosts more than 5 million web sites on 35,000 servers in its data centers. The company has more than 23 petabytes of data housed on its storage systems, and processes more than 350 million emails every day.
A History of Growth
The company’s infrastructure has come a long way. Go Daddy got its start 1997, when software entrepreneur Bob Parsons created Jomax Technologies. Parsons had retired in the Phoenix area after selling accounting software maker Parsons Technology to Intuit for $64 million in 1994, but wanted to get back into the software game. In 2000 the company, now renamed Go Daddy, became a Internet registrar and began selling domain names at substantially lower prices than the leading registrars.
“We started with servers living in the closet at Bob’s ranch,” recalls Go Daddy Chief Technology Officer Wayne Thayer. “Then we got our first data center in Mesa, started with a couple racks, and just grew and grew.”
Go Daddy’s low-priced offerings proved popular with domain buyers. By late 2004, Go Daddy was the dominant domain registrar and a growing force in the hosting business. The company’s growth kicked into high gear in 2005, fueled by a racy Super Bowl commercial featuring model Candice Michelle. Traffic poured into the GoDaddy.com web site.
Almost overnight, the company’s market share of new domain purchases jumped from 16 percent to 25 percent. That’s when the company realized it would have to expand its infrastructure.
“We got to a point where we needed our own owned-and-operated data center,” said Adelman. “We found this great location in Phoenix, and scooped it up for a great price. We just started building it out in pods, and that’s become a primary facility for us.”
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