The shortest way to describe this is that Google is no longer a verb. It's becoming a noun. Not just the few clicks to find information, but the information itself and the experience surrounding it.
Today, we get to add Google's chapter to "Will One Company Dominate the Cloud" introspective series and take a glimpse of the silent revolution from "index" to "be" that is transforming the company and it's products to the default way to engage the Internet.
As fate has it, Google done us a big favor in preparing for this piece. The company has launched an assault on the enterprise with its movement in the Google App Engine, having a stand-off with China, and negotiating with the EU. And that was just a bit of Google news from this week.
Whereas it's a bit more clear where Amazon and Cisco win (our recent analysis) as they head towards the cloud, with Google it takes a bit more expansive view. We have to take the focus out a bit, to be able to dial in on the details.
Acknowledgment: Developers are the Products they Build
Tim Bray. He has been a key contributor and thought leader in key areas of interoperability and information design, including his leadership in bringing XML to the world. He recently announced that he's joining Google and focusing on Android in a transition from Sun.We recently had the opportunity to sit down with
Several things struck us in our dialog that we think are key for Google.
First, when Bray described his new job at Google, he talked about what he wanted to do and what he saw that needed to be done. Within three days of being there, he has a sense of ownership of the companies products and mission. In some organizations, you may never get such a luxury.
Second, Bray described his opportunity to "roll up his sleeves" and get back in the groove as a developer on a project he feels passion for. He mentioned his desire to take the open APIs of Android and expose some of the information in a more portable way, for example to transfer a call log from one phone to another. A very interesting project, with tangible results. This type of innovation lives on top of all the work the company has done to make the API exist, and to attract individuals who are willing to rethink how it should really work.
We think that open innovation is the most interesting thing about where Google is right now. It's "open" mantra gives the company the ability to see a whole generation into the future of information channel disruption. And, by bringing in "no holds barred" developers like Bray and a legion of others, the company is patiently solving problems that many of us don't even know exist.
Lastly, Bray said something that caused us some deep thought.
His comment, "when the Drizzle team was acquired by Rackpace, they just kept working on the their open source project and things stayed nearly the same."
What caused us to pause was that open source development, whether Linux or XML, gives the developer, as a person, a way to contribute to the world. And it's documented. If the Internet was the Bible, leading a key open source initiative, is like getting your own chapter in the book. Here, time, will be the judge of your actions. Much better than your manager alone.
To some, their project is their baby. It is nice to know that hard work, intellectual capital, and of course libraries are available to the world after the project is complete. This really speaks to the artist in us, in a way, the paid open source developer is using Google as a canvas.
If working at Google offers this emotional spark to employees to go further, it will gain entirely new efficiencies in solving the big problems. Developers like to contribute to a version of the greater good...and want fans to witness.
What we learned; acknowledgment matters, and connections to the whole population of people is an amazing vehicle offered through open source. Google: you can become an indie rock star - with the strength of your grep.
All of the Information on Earth
Google's destiny to become the hub of the worlds information is intertwined with history. And this comes with artifacts of policy and posturing. To start with, not everyone agrees that Google should achieve a dominant cloud position. As we're noticing, stopping it is another matter.
We'd like to suggest that in 2010, the company is not shy about stepping towards its future and will use its power, technology, and cash to stir it up. Here is our list of organizations in the world that Google has, is, or will be, continually bumping into in its quest for cloud information dominance.
- China (counties own the filters for the people)
- ATT (service providers own consumer on the network)
- Penguin (book publishers own the words in the texts)
- Visa (financial institutions own the digits in the transactions)
- Facebook (social networks know the details)
- Amazon (commerce sites own the decision point)
- Twitter (owns "what's happening")
- Microsoft (owns the computer applications and files)
Open can be a Key to Unlock Doors
We see both practical and strategic reasons that Google has a deep connection with the open source movement. Strategically, being the new optimized layer, removing all historic barriers to information give the company more leverage. Practically, solutions can be built where information is free.
Reviewing a few examples, such as Google Earth, Android, and even GMail and we see that where there are open protocols and information disruptive products can be built. Once they are built, the Google wields a significant economic advantage in binding the worlds information assets and converting them to eyeballs.
Here, we take a quick look at the information assets that Google is investing the global cloud.
- Results: Google has moved away from Page Rank to "Closest Object" in it's default results. What this means is that many businesses today show up as widget in the results in google with embedded links, maps, and other efficiencies.
- Ads: This is perhaps the best known and most valuable insight and unique asset, who wants to pay for what customer
- Realtime index: Google has worked to keep up with Twitter's realtime firehose
- Semantic index: The company continues to add more and more microsyntax parsers into its index, giving more controlled tools for publishers
- GMail: It had to be done. And it is monetized.
- Documents and files: Google Docs and the Apps Marketplace create a whole new stream of information about an individual. Private, personal, and shared.
- Mobile transactions: This is an interesting sample of where Google's strategy to build the Android OS pays off in the cloud. Not only does Google get to connect mobile to the rest of the offerings, but also to be able to dial in on movements, calls, and other critical tasks in our real-time lives.
- Books: Indexing all of them, first is an interesting piece of the strategy to break apart historic containers of knowledge. Is the book copyrighted? How about the quote?
- Browsers: The browser knows a lot. Google's Chrome moves it from being default search, to being default experience. This was a great example of where access to information "Faster pages" is the simple value proposition for consumers to switch.
- Filters: Protecting companies, trademarks, and interpreting the legality of free speech. Someone has to do it, if we're all one people.
- Health transactions: Google has even taken on one of the most sensitive challenges, private health information. And, it's connections to legacy systems that prefer EDI to JSON.
It's clear that Google is making progress. What we've also learned in this review is that the companies biggest asset - people - may scale to solve problems in lightweight ways that entire teams and companies haven't been able to in the past. Perhaps being open, or transparent, gives the company a unique advantage in being prepared for a cloud future.
Is the cloud where the action is?
What verb would you be if you were hired at Google?