WATPA: FW: Sam Walton Taught Google More About How to Dominate the Internet Than Microsoft Ever Did

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Fri Nov 18 2005 - 22:07:24 EST


November 17, 2005
Sam Walton Taught Google More About How to Dominate the Internet Than
Microsoft Ever Did
By Robert X. Cringely (PBS)

Play to your strengths. That's the key to success in any industry.
This is the week I promised to explain where I think Google is
headed, and playing to the company's strengths is key if they are
going to do what I think, which is effectively take over the
Internet. Oh they won't steal it or strong-arm us. They'll seduce us
into giving it to them. And I am not at all sure that's a bad thing.

Google's strengths are searching, development of Open Source Internet
services, and running clusters of tens of thousands of servers.
Notice on this list there is nothing about operating systems. There
are many rumors about Google doing an operating system to compete
with Microsoft. I'm not saying they aren't doing that (I simply don't
know), but I AM saying it would not be a good idea, because it
doesn't play to any of the company's traditional strengths.

The same follows for the rumor that Google, as a dark fiber buyer,
will turn itself into some kind of super ISP. Won't happen. And WHY
it won't happen is because ISPs are lousy businesses and building one
as anything more than an experiment (as they are doing in San
Francisco with wireless) would only hurt Google's earnings.

So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking
garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to
regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any
shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data
center. 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.

Where some other outfit might put a router, Google is putting an
entire data center, and the results are profound. Take Internet TV as
an example. Replicating that Victoria's Secret lingerie show that
took down Broadcast.com years ago would be a non-event for Google.
The video feed would be multicast over the private fiber network to
300+ data centers, where it would be injected at gigabit speeds into
each peering ISP. Viewers watching later would be reading from a
locally cached copy. Yeah, but would it be Windows Media, Real, or
QuickTime? It doesn't matter. To Google's local data center, bits are
bits and the system is immune to protocols or codecs. For the first
time, Internet TV will scale to the same level as broadcast and cable
TV, yet still offer soemthing different for every viewer if they want

As for the coming AJAX Office and other productivity apps, they'll
sit locally, too. Two or three hops away from every user, they'll
also be completely backed-up by two to three data centers down the
line. Your data never goes away unless you erase it. Your latency and
system response are as low as they can possibly be made for a network

And remember the Google Web Accelerator that came and disappeared?
It's back! Only this time the Web Accelerator will have the proper
hardware and network infrastructure to make it worth using.

This is more than another Akamai or even an Akamai on steroids. This
is a dynamically-driven, intelligent, thermonuclear Akamai with a
dedicated back-channel and application-specific hardware.

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.

And there lies the differences between the two companies. Last week,
I wrote about Windows Live and Office Live as Microsoft's best
attempts at pretending to be Google. And Google will do those kinds
of applications, too. But they'll build them atop a network
infrastructure that Microsoft can't match.

But that doesn't mean Microsoft customers will be denied access to
the Google Internet. Quite the contrary. Google would be insane to
exclude Microsoft customers, which will be as welcome as any other.
Only Google will be benefiting far more than Microsoft from that usage.

Google has the reach and the resources to make this work. There are
only so many fiber networks and they'll be BUYING service from those
outfits -- many of which are in or near bankruptcy. Say the
containers cost $500,000 each in volume and $500,000 per year to run.
That's $300 million to essentially co-opt the Internet. And you know
whose strategy this is? Wal-Mart's. And unless Google comes up with
an ecosystem to allow their survival, that means all the other web
services companies will be marginalized. 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.

Game over.

And yet next week I'll take it one more step.
Received on Fri Nov 18 22:08:34 2005

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