While some webmasters anxiously wait for Google to roll out its Google Caffeine search infrastructure any day now, Google says it may not happen for “months.” What’s more, the IP address of the one data center where Caffeine was said to be available may have changed, and Google is no longer saying where users can see Caffeine search results. Here’s the latest on Google’s “next-generation architecture.”
When Will Caffeine Launch?
A Google spokesperson tells Search Engine Land that Caffeine is still live at only one data center, and says “we expect to roll it out to all data centers over the coming months.”
That’s a far different story than before. In early November, Google’s Matt Cutts wrote a blog post saying that “the full Caffeine roll out will happen after the holidays.” It’s now two months since the holidays, and Google is talking about Caffeine’s launch in months, not days or even weeks.
“We run lots of tests with this big a change to our infrastructure,” the Google spokesperson says. “We want the new system to meet or exceed the abilities of our current system, and it can take time to ensure that everything looks good.”
Here at Search Engine Land, it seems like we get emails every week from readers telling us they think Caffeine is live. And some recent Google news coverage seemed to suggest maybe it was. For example, in this week’s Wired magazine piece, author Steven Levy writes about Caffeine in the past tense, as if it’s already launched:
“The most recent major change, codenamed Caffeine, revamped the entire indexing system to make it even easier for engineers to add signals.”
It’s possible that something was lost in translation between the time Levy spoke with Google about Caffeine and the article was published. But even Matt Cutts himself spoke about Caffeine in the past tense when quoted last October in a BusinessWeek interview:
“Caffeine was primarily an infrastructural change. That was a huge undertaking over many months from the crawl and indexing team.”
Despite all that, Google says Caffeine isn’t live on Google.com — it’s still only at one data center. But that doesn’t mean you can easily see it for yourself.
Where Can I See Caffeine Now?
You can’t. Or maybe you can. Google doesn’t seem to want anyone to know. Caffeine is still live at the same data center it’s always been, but that doesn’t mean you can see it.
“The data center remains the same,” Google tells us, “but different IP addresses can map to different data centers at different times due to how Google manages its traffic. Because of how Google employs custom load-balancing, there is not a single IP address that will always reach the Caffeine data center. For example, one IP address might still send half of its traffic to the Caffeine data center and half of its traffic to a different data center.”
In late November, Matt Cutts confirmed that Caffeine was available about 50% of the time at this IP address: 188.8.131.52. But that 50% figure may not necessarily be the case today. “It varies from day-to-day as the we push various binaries and data out,” Google says.
And when we asked if that same IP address currently points to the data center where Caffeine is live, Google’s spokesperson told us, “I don’t have a specific IP address I can share.”
This is quite a change from last August, when Google first announced Caffeine. Pre-announcing a change to its search infrastructure was newsworthy enough; the fact that Google also set up a developer sandbox at www2.sandbox.google.com and asked for user feedback was groundbreaking as a webmaster outreach measure.
By early November, Google had retired the sandbox where anyone could test the new results. And now Google doesn’t even want webmasters to know which IP points to the Caffeine date center as we all wait for Caffeine to roll out … which might not happen for months.