A Petabyte Here, A Petabyte There, and Soon You're Talking Real Large-Scale Services

All traditional media companies now publish online and many of them are casting warry eyes at Google News, which is rising in the online ratings. Meanwhile, Google’s introduction of its GMail service this month has shaken up the e-mail application world and is probably giving Microsoft HotMail and Yahoo!Mail fits. What other new things can Google do?

Well, just consider the capabilities of Google’s platform. This weekend, Rick Skrenta, whose own company Topix.net has entered the online news arena, post an examination of the unprecedented computer systems that Google is building. “Ignore for a moment the observations about Google leapfrogging their competitors with more user value and a new feature or two. Or Google diversifying away from search into other applications; they’ve been doing that for a while.” According to Skrenta, “Google has taken the last 10 years of systems software research out of university labs, and built their own proprietary, production quality system.” Google’s system has already stored the entire Web many times over just in its RAM. “Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming. This computer is running the world’s top search engine, a social networking service, a shopping price comparison engine, a new email service, and a local search/yellow pages engine. What will they do next with the world’s biggest computer and most advanced operating system?”

New Century Network, Real Cities, and other attempts by traditional media companies to build ‘large-scale’ services for online consumers pale by comparision.