May 4

Marc Hedlund

Marc Hedlund

Is catching up with Google better, or worse, for Microsoft's data centers?

Tim's database entry this morning led me to Greg Linden's excellent blog. You should check out his Early Amazon series -- it's well worth it.

One of Greg's posts talks about Microsoft's effort to replicate Google's datacenters. He writes:

This spending is an explicit part of Microsoft's strategy in the search war. In a Fortune article, Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie said that the cost of building these massive online clusters is a huge barrier to entry and that "the people who could build a viable [Web] services infrastructure of scale are companies that have both the will and the capacity to invest staggering amounts of money."

This made me think of a quote Jason Fried sent me a while back:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked….A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.

I wonder if Microsoft has an advantage in building its cluster, through its "staggering amounts of money" and its hindsight analysis of Google's development; or if instead, as Gall suggests, trying to start out at the current scale of Google will lead them to fall into traps Google grew up learning to avoid.

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Comments: 5

  Greg Rollins [05.04.06 12:21 PM]

I just walked away from 4 years of work designing and building a system that was complex from the word GO. It never worked as well as specified or marketed. Microsoft, be careful.

  Rob [05.04.06 05:31 PM]

....but not all simple systems are scaleable to a complex sysetm.

  Lars [05.05.06 06:28 PM]

True - if you intend to build a complex system, you have to put some thought into the architecture and implementation of the thing.

But scalability is just one aspect of a functional system, and it's cheaper to weed out non-scale related flaws in a simple system than it is in a complex one.

  Adam Brown [05.06.06 10:04 AM]

I've been hearing rumors on the blog-o-sphere that Google's data centers are even having problems keeping up with the glut of splogs (spam blogs). What chance does MS have unless they have the experience to deal with it? Google has lots of engineers that have backgrounds in linguistic software and pattern recognition so they know how to deal with spam. When I was unfortunate enough to have a hotmail account all I got was spam. There is no way they'll be able to fight the great spam website battle.

  Clark WIlkins [05.08.06 09:04 PM]

Gall's Law seems to resonate with me. I have been working on an application for 10 years now. As I think back through the versions and functionality, I remember time and again how the implementation of simple features/rules/interfaces led to much more complex structures. Often, small, simple changes led to big enhancements as I sort of let the software grow organically.

Just one small developer's opinion.

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