The local Kansas City community was very excited by last week's news that Kansas City would be the first community to receive ultra high-speed broadband from Google as part of their Google Fiber for Communities program.
Undoubtedly many people were surprised and even confused by this announcement, knowing Google simply by a "web site", Google.com, they visit regularly to find information on the Internet. To add some context, it is useful to look at Google.com in more detail. Rather than a web site, Google.com is actually an application. It is a Software as a Service application and even more specifically it is a cloud computing application. It is important to understand the Google.com application because it provides a great deal of information to help us understand Google.
Breaking down the basics of the Google.com application
- User Interface: We're all extremely familiar with the iconic Google.com interface. It's best feature has always been its simplicity. The company name and the search box.
- Crawlers: Web crawlers are specialized computer software programs that "read" the Internet. In Google's case they have an army of these software programs, known collectively as Googlebot, reading the web 24x7x365. If you can find your company or school web site using the search engine Google.com it is because Google's crawlers have been to your site, read all of the information and sent it back to Google. Google's crawlers revisit your site constantly to make sure they know about any changes you've made or new content that was added.
- Index: As you can imagine, Google's crawlers read a lot of content on the web. What do they do with it? Well, they send it back to Google's Index and they're sending a lot of data back, if it were a pile of paper it would grow 3 miles every second. Like the index in the back of a book, the purpose of Google's Index is to organize all of the information available for quick searching but instead of organizing it for one book, they're doing it for the entire Internet.
- MapReduce, BigTable, Google File System: These are the names of custom and proprietary software systems built by Google in order to support Google.com. These systems were created specifically to allow Google.com the ability to scale to hundreds of millions of users and billions of searches per day.
- Hardware: Google is the world's 4th largest manufacturer of servers. However unlike HP, Dell and IBM, Google does not sell any of the servers they manufacture. All of these servers are used internally by the firm. Google has dozens of data centers all over the world that run services like Google.com.
Does Google want to show more advertising?
Will Google's broadband announcement allow you to search more quickly, presumably see more ads and make Google more money? In short, no. Results are already delivered in fractions of a second so our experience with Google.com will not be impacted. Will the broadband investment put more people online? Absolutely and here Google will likely see some small monetary gain but not nearly enough to offset the tens of millions of dollars in investment. You don't need to be an expert in socioeconomics to know that Kansas City, Kansas (as well as Kansas City, Missouri) are communities full of inequality. There are many impoverished families in the Kansas City community without access to jobs or healthcare much less a modern Internet connection. Google's ultra high-speed broadband will not be free to these families but it does sound like it may be less expensive than the incumbents. Google's new offering may also spark more competition from other providers in the area. If 1,000 Mbps is available, shouldn't 10 Mbps cost much less? The community will also benefit as schools, government agencies and other organizations will be provided free access to the new services. That being said, Google is not installing ultra high-speed broadband so impoverished members of our community can see more ads.
What else does Google offer businesses, schools and government agencies?
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google's advertising business was actually discovered by accident as the company was working on artificial intelligence software for the Google.com search engine. They have much more to offer and the Internet is key as Google is 100% dedicated to the web.
- Google Apps is the world's most popular web based, Software as a Service messaging and collaboration platform. These services are utilized by everyone from the Federal Government's General Services Administration (GSA) to your local YMCA. Google Apps is free for schools and nonprofits. It is the leading messaging service at the University level.
- Google Apps Engine can be utilized by developers and companies to build custom applications and host them on Google servers.
- The Google Apps Marketplace offers applications and services designed specifically for Google Apps users. Here businesses can find everything from CRM to accounting software.
- Android is the #1 mobile operating system in the United States. The devices are automatically backed up by Google servers so you never have to worry about losing your contacts ever again.
- Chrome is the fastest growing browser and has great resources for organizations of all sizes.
- Chrome OS is a totally fresh approach to the desktop operating system.
- In all Google provides 60+ services as part of Google Apps.
These services all take advantage of the custom software and hardware infrastructure originally built to power Google.com. Forrester Research assessed the return on investment for Google Apps to be over 300%, more productive companies hire more workers. Operation Breakthrough, the local YMCA, and dozens of other local nonprofits leverage Google Apps and other free services as part of the Google Grants program. The Google Chrome browser is available to any person or company. Chrome OS devices will likely hit the market at sub $300 price points making them a very economic choice for businesses, schools and government agencies.
Google has much more to offer Kansas City than ultra high-speed broadband. Google executives believe Kansas City has a great deal of potential. Let's prove them right!