The Google Internet

The Google Internet

Summary: The pseudonymous Robert X. Cringely has an interesting take on what Google is really up to with its dark fiber acquisitions and growing number of data centers.

TOPICS: Google

The pseudonymous Robert X. Cringely has an interesting take on what Google is really up to with its dark fiber acquisitions and growing number of data centers.

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.

According to Cringely, Google is basically going to drop its data centers into the network loop, reducing latency for users, cranking up connections at peering ISPs, and creating its own highly reliable, super redundant service grid. He goes on to say that the "Google Internet" will be "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." The virtual Wal-Mart.

Don't forget about Verisign in this picture, which like Cringely's Google scenario, touches much of the interactions that happen on the Internet. The future is shaping up to have a few major players who control, or serve, vast virtual territories. If this scenario plays out, Google's "do no evil" mantra will be rigorously tested. Also see Michael Parekh's take on Cringely's post.

Topic: Google

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  • Google, first to squander.

    Mr. Parekh quotes himself about the cost of increasing web efficiency:

    (It)...means that the consumer Internet companies are going to have to get their hands dirty this time. The effort, R&D, and the expense of the infrastructure build this time around will have to be borne on the financial models and statements of the consumer companies themselves, with or without the concurrent understanding, support and enthusiasm of their public shareholders.

    So someone is going to have to spend a lot of money with no certainty of return. And who is first and best prepared for this investment with questionable return? Google has proudly stepped forward.

    They're ahead of all competitors in the race to increase capacity to a degree the mrket hasn't considered, let alone wanted.

    It's not that these companies [Google's competitors] can't get the job done from a technical point of view. It's about who get it done with the most technical AND financial efficiencies, both from a cost and revenue/profit perspective, that's going to matter to shareholders.
    But that's what the next set of consumer internet services are potentially all about. So that's what'll have to be done. And somehow paid for...hopefully handsomely to the one most efficient.

    Yes, Google is ready to step up and spend billions on building infrastructure. And maybe some how, some day they'll figure out how to make money on it.

    Think of it as a gigantic loan from Google to the world, with Google receiving repayment as soon as the company can figure out who's going to pay for it.

    You remember Google, company makes its money on ads sold with search results and on websites. That Google.

    The description here sounds more like Worldcom.
    Anton Philidor
  • Google = AT&T?

    Granted, I'm not as savvy as Mr. X. Cringely, but didn't the (former) AT&T once own the "backbone"? And didn't they die because they couldn't deliver their services over the "last mile" into customer's homes?

    Unless Google comes out with the Google Internet Appliance or a competing OS, aren't they still dependent upon a major competitor for delivery of services (fast though they may be) to 90% of the world's desktops via Windows? How is this not like AT&T?
    • Never mind... sort of

      Michael Parekh responded to my concerns on his blog. It's more about Google being a value-add to all users of the Net (including MS?). Lots to think about. Thanks, Michael.

      How come Cringely doesn't blog his own article?
      • Keep minding.

        The response to your request for clarification states that Mr. Parekh was not referring to the pipes, but to adding "intelligence".

        The problem, aside from my uncertainty about what Google would be selling, is that the original reason for speculation was why Google was buying dark fiber lines.

        Those are pipes, I think.

        So the question would become why Google would buy pipes in order to do something irrelevant to pipes.

        At any rate, I think Google's actions are still subject to speculation.
        Anton Philidor