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Innovation

Google has legacy system issues too

Google's growth has led to redundant systems and the need for a "Project Spaghetti" designed to unravel the potential rat's nest.That's one of the big items in a Wall Street Journal story on how Google is struggling to sell ads on YouTube.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Google's growth has led to redundant systems and the need for a "Project Spaghetti" designed to unravel the potential rat's nest.

That's one of the big items in a Wall Street Journal story on how Google is struggling to sell ads on YouTube. Most of the world is focusing on Google's plans to launch pre-roll ads on YouTube, but IT manager types need to read the article too. Why? Google wrestles with the same application paring and pruning you do.

Among the key items in the Journal story:

  • Part of the problem with selling YouTube ads is that Google's systems for selling ads on the video site were "hamstrung by inefficiencies." Manual systems, multiple legal hurdles and a temp worker as a gatekeeper were part of the problem. Another issue: Bills were calculated manually--at Google! You'd think Google would at least use one of its Google Apps spreadsheets.
  • According to the Journal Tim Armstrong, Google's advertising and commerce honcho in North America, found "105 problems with YouTube's ad sales, according to one person familiar with the matter. The ad difficulties extended beyond YouTube. In its successful search-ad business, Google recently counted 24 separate internal systems for helping advertisers come up with search terms to have their ads displayed alongside."
  • Project Spaghetti is the initiative to fix and meld these disparate systems. Armstrong says the rat's nest of systems is due to "rapid growth and innovation." Funny how it's called IT mismanagement at other companies.

The lesson from Google's experience is that you have to stay on top of your apps and systems and regularly weed them. Google had a similar weeding project in 2002 and Armstrong said that Project Spaghetti should be complete by the end of September.

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