Is Google’s Software Infrastructure Almost Obsolete?

Former Google engineer Dhanji R. Prasanna, who helped design the search and indexing pipeline on Wave, wrote the entire front end for Realtime Search and maintained the code library that resided on most of Google’s Java servers, said “Google’s vaunted scalable software infrastructure is obsolete.”

Google Infrastructure Getting Old

Posting a goodbye on his blog earlier this week, Prasanna reiterated others’ complaints that Google had become too corporate and that this has contributed to an infrastructure that is starting to creak from old age.

“Protocol Buffers, BigTable and MapReduce are ancient, creaking dinosaurs compared to MessagePack, JSON, and Hadoop. And new projects like GWT, Closure and MegaStore are sluggish, overengineered Leviathans compared to fast, elegant tools like jQuery and mongoDB. Designed by engineers in a vacuum, rather than by developers who have need of tools,” he noted.

Prasana went on to detail how ‘old guard’ developers spent more time protecting their old code then creating new. The startup days are over and an entrenched corporate mentality has taken over, he opines.

This may be why Google’s launch of Chrome 12 browser yesterday included an offer to pay up to $10,000 to bug finders. Whilst startups tear at their platforms looking for holes and discovery new ideas, established companies are often too entrenched to make sweeping changes or too close to find all the bugs.

As ReadWrite states, “if Prasanna’s assessment is correct, it would support RedMonk’s Stephen O’Grady’s thesis that software infrastructure is no longer a competitive advantage. This is particularly relevant as Google markets its App Engine platform-as-a-service…. Although the platform has made improvements in the past year, many developers have been unhappy with its restrictions.

Developers have been willing to accept the proprietary nature of the PaaS and its restrictions to access Google’s infrastructure. But what if Google’s infrastructure really isn’t special? Cloud services powered by open services would then be even more desirable.”

This also might explain why Google pushes site owners to do tagging implementations, the task of them going through their ever growing databases and making the changes is an impossible task for this older platform.

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