We're not quite ready to buy into Cringely's entire proposal. Even Cringely rarely takes his ideas seriously. And we're not ready to consider Google as evil - even though it is.
We are, however, concerned about the pace at which things are heading and the wrappers they're coming in.
Were a company of Google's size and occasional competence to really pull off this enormous information-sucking database you might suppose those people initially buying into the products would like an exit option. You need an effective, economical means of shifting your data between service providers on this scale. In that sense data is quite a bit more of a touchy subject than electricity, where a rather dull debate arises around which provider might save you a few pennies per day, if you have the luxury of picking between multiple suppliers.
It'll probably take Microsoft until about 2035 to pull something like this off. But if Microsoft could do an effective utility service today, you can bet that people would worry about a Redmond lock-in. Meanwhile companies like Amazon, Sun and Salesforce run around sucking information, with users thinking little about the end game.
Most tragically, we can see customers flocking to "do no evil" evildoer Google with their usual glee. "Gee, that company makes sweet text ads. They sure seem to know what they're doing. Let's fork over the whole shebang." Add to that the open source wrapper of peace, love and justice, and you can start to imagine how easily Google could reach Cringelapocalypse.
Here's us hoping that a company with the moxie and stubbornness of an IBM or Sun starts pushing for some manner of open utility protocol or open coalition. While historically fond of some lock-ins, these vendors must see the likes of Amazon and Google as a threat to their data center domination, especially Google, which builds much of its own hardware. So, they should want to ensure a means of open competition around grabbing as much end user data as possible. Why be shoved out of the hardware game just because Google touches people first with search and email? (Pardon the Cringely moment.)
Dear God, this is a long way of saying that Google's chumminess with MySQL does raise an awful lot of questions. Maybe it's just a couple of database tweaks, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's Google befriending open source, but maybe it's Google building a Trojan Horse.
In either case, the big hardware and software boys better get their acts together and learn how to share data across these utility computing systems. It's what customers deserve. ®
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