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 has its own problems, 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 blog post on Wednesday.