It's happening. Google seems to be morphing into the Next Big Thing, eating what we now think of as the internet. Top site this morning on Blogsnow. (Actually second after Zarqawi, but that's not as much fun.)
Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.
While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.
Two years ago Google had one data center. Today they are reported to have 64. Two years from now, they will have 300-plus. The advantage to having so many data centers goes beyond simple redundancy and fault tolerance. They get Google closer to users, reducing latency. They offer inter-datacenter communication and load-balancing using that no-longer-dark fiber Google owns. But most especially, they offer super-high bandwidth connections at all peering
ISPs at little or no incremental cost to Google.
There will be the Internet, and then there will be the Google Internet, superimposed on top. We'll use it without even knowing. The Google Internet will be faster, safer, and cheaper. With the advent of widespread GoogleBase (again a bit-schlepping app that can be used in a thousand ways -- most of them not even envisioned by Google) there's suddenly a new kind of marketplace for data with everything a transaction in the most literal sense as Google takes over the role of trusted third-party info-escrow agent for all world business. That's the goal.
All this is based, of course, on Google's proven network and hardware expertise. Have you seen Google's Search Appliance? They ship you a 1U prebuilt server. You connect it to your network, fill out a simple configuration screen, and it scans and indexes your web site (or sites) for you. Google monitors and manages it remotely, and sucks up the data and adds it to theirs. You just plug the thing in and turn it on. It just works. You need do nothing else to keep it running. Google understands how to do this stuff. Microsoft definitely does not.
There will be startups and little guys, but no medium-sized companies. ISPs, which we've thought of as a threatened species, won't be touched, but then their profit margins are so low they aren't worth touching. After all, Wal-Mart doesn't try to own the roads its goods are carried over. And the final result is that Web 2.0 IS Google.
Microsoft can't compete. Yahoo probably can't compete. Sun and IBM are like remora, along for the ride. And what does it all cost, maybe $1 billion? That's less than Microsoft spends on legal settlements each year.
So who is Robert X. Cringley?
When it comes to information technology, I know what I am talking about. Twenty years in and around the PC business have earned me wisdom, if not wealth. It's not that I am so smart, but that my friends are smart. The best and brightest in Silicon Valley talk to me all the time. It's my job to sift through their thoughts for valuable bits to share with you. But wait, if I am so great, why is this service free? Good question! Maybe it's time to renegotiate my contract with PBS.
RTWT. More fun than stomping baby chickens.