Or would a series of upstart companies fill those holes, springing to action like Mother Nature reclaiming land?
More, after the jump.
Yesterday, ZDNet editor-in-chief Larry Dignanwarned us about the pitfalls of "monoculture" -- the near-complete reliance on a single vendor for a solution to a problem. Dignan's post was about Google's flagging of all search results as malware -- a security error -- but just imagine the implications if the problem spread company-wide. After all, Google search may be its biggest and most notable business, but it's just one of many services.
In security circles, monoculture is a key concept. Roughly speaking, whenever a technology–Windows for instance–is dominant it becomes a big target to attack. You attack the target and wreak a lot of havoc. Windows is a monoculture. If Windows is wrecked the damage is far and wide just because of market share.
But this isn't just a security problem -- this is a lifestyle problem; a productivity problem; the very ability for businesses to function.
The goal for every IT vendor is to become your monoculture...and the pressure for enterprises to become a monoculture is immense. How many times have you heard some CIO yapping about standardizing on one technology because it’s allegedly more cost effective? When it comes to vendors they want one throat to choke. The downside: What you save in costs and complexity you lose in immunity.
And no company integrates its services quite as well as Google does. So what if Google, king of free and open, ceased to exist tomorrow?
Are we talking about a massive meltdown?
Want to check your Gmail? Out of luck. The Gchat protocol is out, so you can't tell anyone Gmail doesn't work. Got your meeting notes on Google Docs? Sorry, they're gone. Where was that conference, anyway? Time to get a Google Map....wait, maybe just a normal map. Does anyone have a tangible map anymore? You could call someone, but it looks like your G1 doesn't work anymore.
Obviously, not everyone uses Google to this degree, but you can see how reliance on a single vendor makes a problem potentially systemic. It's the same problem that geneticists discuss with regard to biological weapons: if everyone's the same, it's much easier to wipe a population out.