Joining Google

Next Monday, I will start at Google, in the Cloud Platform team.

I’ve been watching that platform, and especially Google App Engine (GAE), since it started in 2008. It shaped my thoughts on Cloud Computing and on the tension between PaaS and IaaS. In my first post about GAE, 4.5 years ago, I wrote about that tension:

History is rarely kind to promoters of radical departures. The software industry is especially fond of layering the new on top of the old (a practice that has been enabled by the constant increase in underlying computing capacity). If you are wondering why your command prompt, shell terminal or text editor opens with a default width of 80 characters, take a trip back to 1928, when IBM defined its 80-columns punch card format. Will Google beat the odds or be forced to be more accommodating of existing code?

This debate (which I later characterized as “backward-compatible vs. forward-compatible”) is still ongoing. App Engine has grown a lot and shed its early limitations (I had a lot of fun trying to engineer around them in the early days). Google’s Cloud Platform today is also a lot more than App Engine, with Cloud Storage, Compute Engine, etc. It’s much more welcoming to existing applications.

The core question remains, however. How far, and how quickly will we move from the abstractions inherited from seeing the physical server as the natural unit of computation? What benefits will we derive from this transformation and will they make it worthwhile? Where’s the next point of equilibrium in the storm provoked by these shifts:

  • IT management technology was ripe for a change, applying to itself the automation capabilities that it had brought to other domains.
  • Software platforms were ripe for a change, as we keep discovering all the Web can be, all the data we can handle, and how best to take advantage of both.
  • The business of IT was ripe for a change, having grown too important to escape scrutiny of its inefficiency and sluggishness.

These three transformations didn’t have to take place at the same time. But they are, which leaves us with a fascinating multi-variable equation to optimize. I believe Google is the right place to crack this nut.

This is my view today, looking at the larger Cloud environment and observing Google’s Compute Platform from the outside. In a week’s time, I’ll be looking at it from the inside. October me may scoff at the naïveté of September me; or not. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.


Filed under Cloud Computing, Everything, Google, Google App Engine, Google Cloud Platform, People, Uncategorized, Utility computing

7 Responses to Joining Google

  1. Congratulations on your new job. Keep entertaining us with your All things Cloud!

  2. two things:

    1 – congrats to you. Google is lucky to have you and I’m sure you’ll do great things there.

    2 – re: the transformations – hypermedia, my friend. not just for apps, not but for infrastructure, too. loosely-connected, time-shifting, distributed systems send instructions w/ their data (ie. DNA/RNA). we can, too.


  3. Ludovic Champenois

    Congrats for the big move, keep this blog running, and your funny tweets!

  4. Emmanuel de la Gardette

    Félicitation guillaume,

    Si nous n’avons pas eu l’occasion de travailler ensemble chez Oracle, j’espère que ce la sera peut être le cas chez Google.

    Bonne chance


  5. Raghav Tripathi

    Great news William! Congratulations on the new job. Looking forward to more exciting stuff on your blog

  6. Congrats! Somehow Google was my guess. Another strong reason to keep recommending your blog to my students.

  7. Wow, congratulations! Google is probably one of my “ultimate” destination for a career/job.

    I have been a lurker of this blog for quite some time, being an early fan of Cloud and SaaS (I didn’t know it was called SaaS when we started adopting the idea and developed business software way back in 2002).

    For a country like the Philippines, SaaS and Cloud platform is the perfect solution for majority of businesses including government.

    I remembered when I started talking about this idea as early as 7 years ago with many of my clients (Oracle and traditional ERP users) and prospects, they were enthusiastic, however, solid applications/solutions were not available back then.

    Today this is already becoming popular, and with good SaaS/Cloud applications, there is a huge potential market here as well.

    Keep up the very informative posts.