Category: www

Today, Google announced that they are releasing their own web browser. Chrome, a lightweight browser for Windows that has no particular usefulness, other than to take market share away from Firefox.

The bottom line of Google Chrome’s creation? The bottom line. Google was worried that Firefox was making too much money, and Mozilla was getting too independent. Mozilla had to be stopped — and the true Firefox believers at Google had to be cajoled into doing Larry and Sergey’s dirty work.

There is no innovation in Chrome. Chrome is to Firefox as IE was to Netscape. Its all about corporate control. Just like Microsoft used their desktop monopoly to propel their browser, Google will abuse its search monopoly to push Chrome.

I don’t think they will have much success, since it actually requires people to psychically install another browser and reject Firefox and IE. Microsoft’s bundling was much more egregious since it came on the computer by default.

Cloud Computing is the latest in a long history of overhyped computing technologies. I won’t try to define cloud computing, since wikipedia does a good job, but the most prominent example of cloud computing is Amazon’s EC2 Service.

Instead of finding space in a data center, and dealing with all the IT related headaches that come with servers, storage, networking, and hardware, business can simply purchase instances in the cloud. Instead of paying upfront for a ton hardware, companies only pay for what they use.

Its a great model, especially for software startups. Instead of spending a bunch of money upfront on IT infrastructure, startups can spend money on their core-competencies. Need regional servers? EC2 provides multiple datacenter locations around the world. No need to deal with networking, hosting providers, hardware, and all those other IT annoyances.

So whats the problem? Well first off, you are entirely dependent on Amazon for the availability of your IT infrastructure. Amazon had 6 hours of downtime the other day. Secondly, if you actually care about performance, cloud computing will never be the best option, since its really just a slick interface on top of virtualization.

Virtualization is another overhyped technology, that allows you to split up one piece of hardware in to multiple instances all running on the same machine. So what’s the problem? You’re adding additional layers on top of the hardware, so performance is a problem. Multi-core CPU’s certainly help, but the biggest virtualization bottleneck is storage.

So you have 5 VM’s running on one server using local disk storage? Every VM instance is utilizing the same storage controller. Local disk storage is huge no-no when it comes to virtualization. The way to get around the storage problem is to use SAN for storage, but a lot of organizations are SAN-allergic.

My biggest issue with cloud computing and virtualization is reliability. With cloud computing, a software bug is no longer isolated to a single server, it can literally bring your entire infrastructure down. A hardware failure on a VM server will bring down every guest. A failure of 1 box, is really like 10 boxes going down at the same time.

In the financial industry, current cloud computing offerings would never be used due to performance, security, and risk concerns. At financial firms, virtualization is limited to dev/test configurations since financial applications are extremely latency dependent. What works for a Web 2.0 startup, doesn’t necessarily translate to other industries.

Cloud computing is definitely a interesting technology, and virtualization is here to stay, but its not a magic bullet. There are huge downsides to these technologies.

How important is your web presence? Is your company’s business model based solely on the web? Are you an equipment manufacturer touting high reliability?

If the reliability of your web presence is even slightly important, you might not want to gamble your entire web presence on one colocation center. Hundreds of big name companies have been down throughout the day thanks to a power outage at a high end data center that couldn’t handle the power requirements of its customer base.

Its amazing how much faith companies will put in to colocation centers, with very little auditing. The fact of the matter is, most colocation centers cannot handle a prolonged power outage, due to the cooling requirements. The data center in question in one of the highest end in the country, yet it couldn’t handle a simple power outage.

Its amazing to think that large e-commerce companies would be dependent on one data center, with no process for site failover. Its simple inexcusable that a company like Sun Microsystems, would be dependent on one datacenter. Why the hell doesn’t Sun run their own datacenter(s)?

Is your company’s web presence dependent on the availability of one data center? Most companies don’t have a plan b. If they do, it hasn’t been dusted off in a few years. At the very least, an e-commerce company, and any fortune-1000, should be able to failover to a backup site in 1 hour. Anything more than an hour, is grounds for the CIO’s dismissal.

There is simply no excuse.

I never thought I would see the month where I agree with both Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer, but that time has come. Ballmer characterized Google’s employee growth as “insane,” and commented about Google’s forays in just about every conceivable market.

“They’re going to double in a year. That’s insane, in my opinion,” Ballmer said Thursday during an address to students at Stanford University, near Palo Alto, Calif.

“I don’t really know that anybody’s proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.”

“They’re still really one business, and it’s a search and advertising business,” he said. Google’s other efforts have been “cute,” he said.

I totally agree with Ballmer about Google’s growth and their push in to other markets. It seems like Google is hiring anyone with a pulse these days, and trying to branch out in to every conceivable business activity. The growth of Google is simply unsustainable, and will lead to a dilution in the quality of their workforce and eventually the quality of their products.