Like a man eager to show off his new watch, Google is encouraging anyone running IT operations to ask it for the time.
The company will let anyone use its NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers, a move to help IT shops cope with the next “leap second,” which will be tacked onto 2016 just after midnight on Dec. 31.
Leap seconds help to keep clocks aligned with Earth’s rotation, which can vary due to geologic and even weather conditions. But an extra second can wreak havoc with applications and services that depend on systems being tightly synchronized.
Most Internet-connected devices get their time through NTP, an open-source technology that’s used all over the world. NTP , mainly around funding, but it’s long been the standard. Google runs its own NTP servers and uses them to ease its systems through leap seconds, according to Michael Shields, technical lead on the company’s Time Team, in a on Wednesday.
for synchronizing systems to its smeared time.
Google won’t be the only company smearing time on Dec. 31. plans to slow down its clocks over a 24-hour period around the leap second. Amazon and Microsoft have done the same thing in the past.
In fact, the big cloud companies look ready to standardize on a 24-hour “.” Google plans to use the longer transition for the next leap second, partly to ease more slowly into extra second and partly to align itself with other companies. There’s no date yet for the next leap second, but Google expects it to come in 2018.
Leap seconds began in 1972 and are now administered by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS). They’re needed because Earth’s rotation isn’t uniform. It’s affected by things like tides in the oceans and the movement of magma beneath the Earth’s crust. Atomic clocks, which set the standard for most timekeeping, are more consistent than that.