Google showing energy efficient data center design

A little dirty secret in the computer industry is that while computers and particularly CPU’s have gotten more powerful, likewise their power consumption has gone up dramatically. Also, for the server business heat release ergo cooling systems have become much more expensive, taking up as much as 40-50 % of all energy uses inside data centers. Combine this with web 2.0 business models, that often assume millions of users with a low ARPU (average revenue per user), and it becomes clear that business wise you have to make sure your power consumption is kept as low as possible. And of course, with global warming and green energy being a major issue these days you have another reason to become aware of your power consumption.

Google has been very secretive of their server and data center design. They own dozens of data centers around the world, trying to get as close as possible to the end user while reducing reliance on a limited set of data center and network backbones. Last week more details were released about their home grown server design. Keywords: completely Google custom, standard cheap components, all power is 12 Volt, on board battery instead of shared UPS usage. Also they showed their design of data centers, which is very interesting. Keywords: shipping containers as standard unit filled with servers within the data center, highly optimised air conditioning and efficient water usage.

Further reading: 

Who’s owner of your social data? you?

Again a big debate is evolving about who is the owner of your data in social networks, what can you or a third party that you authorize do with the data. A couple of months ago Robert Scoble was banned from Facebook for using an unreleased feature from Plaxo, to scrape info from his contacts on Facebook and import it into Plaxo. Now Google launched a new tool last week called Google Friend Connect. It let’s you grab content from one site and publish it to another. Again, the whole service was blocked by Facebook. The guys at Techcrunch do not agree but say this is really about control of user profiles, and therefore where the users go.

Not really a surprise, that Facebook is not allowing them, no?

As social networks will always want to make you use their web site for advertisement purposes, they will not be inclined to let you easily export your data. So a (or a few) big central trustworthy authority would be best, something like OpenID.

One of the major problems with this approach: if they just keep the data and provide API’s, where’s their business model? Advertisements is not going to work, so the only way would be to let users pay for centralized storage. Will they? Maybe they might, but it will take some time before the users start to get used to this idea and become willing to pay. In the mean time, cat fights will go on, between major networks with tons of user profiles and little (social that is, Google is quite big otherwise) guys that want to tap into that information.

Google App Engine in preview

Google is competing with Amazon’s S3 and EC2 and launched their own Google App Engine service today. With currently only support for Python but more scripting languages to come you can access their own database system called BigTable. You will have some limitations in data, CPU cycles and traffic. These limitations will be lifted in the future but then you will have to pay for it. This will make it even more easy and cheap than with Amazon to deploy and host your webapp.

For me, I’d like to see other languages added like Ruby on Rails, which it even easier to use than Python with lots of out of the box functionality. But the good news is that it’s coming some time soon. Also, finding cheap python or RoR hosting is pretty difficult, as all the shared hosting companies only offer .NET or PHP languages.

Sounds really excited no? So I tried to sign up for one of the 10,000 preview accounts, but they were already gone:(

Not too bad, no?

Google docs going offline

A small note about something I am really excited about the news that Google is making its documents available for offline usage. Google is using Gears for this. So although Internet access is ubiquitous nowadays, it is not always present. Want to work on your documents in the train? Quite difficult until now. Its not available on my accounts yet, but I hope it soon is! Same for the plans to not only make docs and spreadsheets available, but also GMail messages.