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Google Docs move shows the Internet is a cloudy sky

Imagine if Microsoft were in the market position Google is relative to clouds. Resistance to Microsoft standards might indeed be futile.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

As clouds become a consumer service, with things like Google's any file, the nature of the Internet is changing rapidly.

Former Sen. Ted Stevens famously mischaracterized the Internet some years ago as "a series of tubes," but there was some truth to what he said. That is, the connections between sites and systems were key. No one site could be all things to all people.

But with the rise of cloud computing this began to change. Amazon's EC2 could be seen as an adjunct to, even a replacement for, corporate computing resources. This was followed by a host of little back-up outfits, so individuals could keep a copy of their whole online life in the cloud.

Whether a cloud is hosting key applications like Salesforce.com or becoming a continent's basic computer resource, as in IBM's Africa clouds, clouds are evolving into destinations for corporate data, applications, and for people.

Of course, no cloud is larger, more scaled, or less expensive to manage than Google's cloud. Even while it was only a partial participant in the "cloud wars" Google was the big presence overhanging the market.

Now Google has begun to tip its hand. As Christopher Dawson notes, quoting Mary Jo Foley at Between the Lines, what Google is offering is a lot less, in some ways, than what the competition offers. I can store and share a gig on Google? I brought a 32 GByte thumb drive to Taiwan last June!

But as Josh Lowenstein notes over at C|Net, that's just a taste, like the paper of cocaine Sporting Life left on the table in Porgy & Bess.

Users can buy more. A lot more. How about a full terabyte for less than $22/month? Compare that, as a corporate resource, to the cost of installing, linking, and managing new drives in the corporate data center. Now consider that Google is getting itself some margin at that price.

What does this mean for open source? Quite a lot. To the extent that Google dominates the cloud market, and retains its commitment to open source, rival clouds have to maintain their own support, if only to assure interoperability for their own users.

Imagine if Microsoft were in the market position Google is relative to clouds. Resistance to Microsoft standards might indeed be futile.

But it's not. So long as Google maintains its cost advantages in the cloud market, open source will be more than welcome.

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