Feeds

Ex-Google engineer dubs Goofrastructure 'truly obsolete'

MapReduce and BigTable as 'ancient, creaking dinosaurs'

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A former Google engineer who worked on a library at the heart of "nearly every Java server at Google" has dubbed the company's much-ballyhooed backend software "well and truly obsolete".

In a blog post published earlier this week, Dhanji R. Prasanna announced that he had resigned from the company, and though he praised Google in many ways, he made a point of saying that the company's famously distributed back-end is behind the times.

"Here is something you may have heard but never quite believed before: Google's vaunted scalable software infrastructure is obsolete," he wrote. "Don't get me wrong, their hardware and datacenters are the best in the world, and as far as I know, nobody is close to matching it. But the software stack on top of it is 10 years old, aging and designed for building search engines and crawlers. And it is well and truly obsolete."

As a member of the Google Wave team, Prasanna helped build the search and indexing pipelines for the ill-fated effort to reinvent communication on the web, but he also worked on Guice, a library "at the heart of nearly every single Java server at Google".

Prasanna did not immediately respond to a request to discuss his post. But he goes on to describe Google's Protocol Buffers, BigTable distributed database, and MapReduce distributed number-crunching platform as "ancient, creaking dinosaurs", compared with outside open source projects like MessagePack, JSON, and Hadoop, which is based on the ideas behind Google's MapReduce and distributed file system.

Google has previously acknowledged some short comings with the likes of MapReduce. But Prasanna went so far that newer Google infrastructure projects such as Megastore as well as developer tools such as Google Web Toolkit and Closure were "sluggish, overengineered Leviathans" compared to projects like MongoDB and jQuery. He complained that Google's new projects are "designed by engineers in a vacuum, rather than by developers who have need of tools."

Google is famously secretive about its back-end software infrastructure. It has published research papers on platforms such as the Google File System, Google MapReduce, and BigTable, but it otherwise says very little about how these platforms are used within the company. And, yes, the platforms are closed source.

On the public mailing list for Google App Engine – an online service that lets you run your own applications atop Google's infrastructure – Google developer programs engineer Ikai Lan took issue with at least some of Prasanna's post.

"The bit about Hadoop, for instance, raised a lot of eyebrows amongst Googlers who have extensive use of both (new hires with a few years Hadoop experience)," he said. "I'd also disagree that we are not rebuilding things. In fact, Google has the opposite problem of other technology companies: instead of 'don't touch it, it works!', we err on the side of 'it can be better, we should improve it - mid flight!'"

Prasanna did not actually say that Google has failed to rebuild its platforms. At one point, he specifically mentioned Megastore, a real-time, high-replication layer built atop BigTable. But he did imply that efforts to rebuild at Google are slow.

"In the short time I've been outside Google I've created entire apps in Java in the space of a single workday," he said. "I've gotten prototypes off the ground, shown it to people, or deployed them with hardly any barriers." This, however, would seem to describe a switch from any large corporation.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.