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Google Businesses The Internet Networking

Google Router Rumors 267

Posted by timothy
from the google-cars-too-pass-it-on dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a new rumor that Google is developing its own router. The company won't comment on the story, but it's been in the hardware business for a while and expanded its presence with Android. If Larry Ellison can go halvsies with HP on a server, then Eric Schmidt should certainly be able to make Cisco nervous."
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Google Router Rumors

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  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:06PM (#26361229) Homepage
    ...to procrastinate on the CCNA test.
  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:06PM (#26361231) Homepage

    All I need now is google underwear that twitters for me with real time gps tracking so I know where I've been.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:06PM (#26361235) Journal
    Even looking at Google from the outside, even by just knowing that they have hundreds of thousands of desktop machines behind their world class search, even just knowing that those machines have to be connected someway somehow .... you know they
    1. Already have something that beats what Cisco offers.
    2. Have been testing/improving it for years.
    3. Can simply point to their success as reasons you should buy into their technology (no matter how proprietary it is).

    I seem to remember rumors of them building their own insane (10 GbE) hardware switches [nyquistcapital.com]. And I don't think that's hard to imagine as nothing on the market at the time could possibly meet their needs.

    Of course, there's a lot of questions that remain to be answered ... like many claims they could not be operating on TCP/IP stacks on the inside. Because it's such a resource hog in some respects but that's irrelevant--I'm certain they can apply some of their ideas universally. I would put my money on them being the leader in research on networks and network theory ... probably past Cisco even (although behind the NSA as no one's ever sure about those guys). I feel that networking is so closely tied to their bread and butter search application that they should be dumping huge R&D into that field. I can't offer proof but it certainly makes sense to me.

    And all I can say is that it's about time someone put pressure on the home & enterprise networking hardware companies. What a stagnant squabbling market that has become.

    • by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:20PM (#26361487) Homepage

      And all I can say is that it's about time someone put pressure on the home & enterprise networking hardware companies. What a stagnant squabbling market that has become.

      The fine article seems to be down, so I can't tell what it claims. But I suppose the "Google Router", if it exists, will put an end to Juniper and Cisco in the same way as Bigtable does for Oracle, PostgreSQL etc.: it doesn't because the technology is so fundamental for Google's success that they simply don't share it.

      • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:09PM (#26362241) Journal

        But I suppose the "Google Router", if it exists, will put an end to Juniper and Cisco in the same way as Bigtable does for Oracle, PostgreSQL etc.: it doesn't because the technology is so fundamental for Google's success that they simply don't share it.

        Reading TFA, It is basically saying that the loss of Google alone as a customer would doom Juniper. It doesn't matter if Google shares its technology or not as far as Juniper is concerned.

        • Isn't Juniper's business plan to install FreeBSD on cheap embedded hardware and pretend that it's special-secret-proprietary-magic? I wouldn't be surprised if Google could undercut them, for in-house use at the very least.
          • by pyite (140350) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:23PM (#26363497)

            Isn't Juniper's business plan to install FreeBSD on cheap embedded hardware and pretend that it's special-secret-proprietary-magic? I wouldn't be surprised if Google could undercut them, for in-house use at the very least.

            This is not really true. On the higher end Juniper boxes, while the control plane is running FreeBSD, the real work is done on the forwarding plane which is comprised of custom ASICs. You can't route at an enterprise or carrier level using commodity hardware.

            If Google is building an in-house router, it's down to the hardware design level. Either they're developing their own ASICs (plausible) or they're using merchant silicon (even more plausible) and rolling their own OS and chassis.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Slashcrap (869349)

            Isn't Juniper's business plan to install FreeBSD on cheap embedded hardware and pretend that it's special-secret-proprietary-magic? I wouldn't be surprised if Google could undercut them, for in-house use at the very least.

            Do you really think that FreeBSD has anything to do with routing packets and the other functionality on Juniper routers? In fact your comment suggests that you could put FreeBSD on the same hardware and acheive equivalent levels of features and performance, which really is incredibly uninformed.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hannson (1369413)

        No it won't.

        BigTable and relational DBMS are very different - neither will replace the other in the near future.

        Custom hardware at Google isn't unheard of. TFA doesn't state if the router is to be sold as a competing product or if it's just going to be used internally. It's just a rumor, don't hold your breath

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:22PM (#26361531)

      "And all I can say is that it's about time someone put pressure on the home & enterprise networking hardware companies. What a stagnant squabbling market that has become."

      If they do get into network tech, I seriously hope they release some home routers. I'm probably not the only one tired of having to reboot home routers every so often, especially with multiple people connected and having their wireless connection suddenly drop.

      • by 3waygeek (58990) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:28PM (#26361633)

        Simple solution -- quit buying crappy (i.e. Linksys) routers. I've used Netgear routers for 10+ years, and have never had to reboot or replace a broken router.

        • by duguk (589689) <dugNO@SPAMfrag.co.uk> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:41PM (#26361795) Homepage Journal
          I've had problems with both Netgear and Linksys routers, usually because of the cheap PSU's they use. Put it on a UPS and haven't had to reboot my home Linksys or Netgear (WRT54G and DG834N WDS'd together) in years now.

          Mostly seems to stem from power fluctuations, google search [google.co.uk] brings up nothing specific, but anecdotal evidence on my part and some customers seem to agree. Anyone else have this?
          • by jbeaupre (752124)
            Our old Linksys at work (small office) was on a UPS, but died pretty frequently. 28 hours and counting with the new Linksys, a nice, if statistically insignificant, improvement.
            • by argiedot (1035754)
              Is that normal? Admittedly, the router I have at home only usually has some 4 clients connected to it at the same time at the maximum, but the ZyXEL P-660 (not exactly high end) has uptimes in the many hundreds of hours.

              And OP also seems to have trouble with a router he's using at home.
          • by Carnivore (103106)

            My wrt56g sucked so hard out of the box (5-10 seconds per domain lookup, and it happened _every time_ I loaded a page) that I put DD-WRT on it. I have always had it on the UPS, so I can't comment on any additional stability.

            DD-WRT is awesome. It fixed my router and made it better than it was before!

        • Simple solution -- quit buying crappy (i.e. Linksys) routers.

          I've been using a Linksys WRT54 for 2 years, now, and have never had any problems with it. Before that, I used a d-Link DLG624 for 2 years and had frequent loss of connection requiring rebooting the router.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Linksys may be crappy, but at least you can install a community-supported variant of Linux on many of their router models.

          Netgear is, in my experience, even crappier (as evidenced by how flaky my WPN824 was), and there are very few choices as far as open source alternative firmwares for Netgear routers. They marketed an "open source" router for a while, but I could not find a single instance of third party firmware for that router.

          Sadly, Buffalo Technology refused to give into patent trolls and so their wi

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:29PM (#26361649) Journal
        I'd be very surprised if they had anything that could, or would even be interested in, solving the basic problem with home routers, which is that they are cheap crap and built right down to price. All the ingredients necessary to build highly reliable home routers are already in place, it's just that they cost enough that people will leave them on the shelf, en masse, in order to buy $40 d-link boxes.

        There are plenty of options for robust routers, even smallish ones; but the cost of entry will be 2 or 3 times higher than the cheapies.
    • by StaticEngine (135635) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:37PM (#26361739) Homepage

      although behind the NSA as no one's ever sure about those guys

      The real secret of the NSA is that they've got a zombie Alan Turing kept functioning on a combination of nutrient bath and Jeff Stryker porn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      They are using OpenMPI with a custom transport over Gig10e hardware. For their switching they have basically gone to a stacked of switching fabrics. It is pretty much a 3D fabric they call a bolt.
      Of course I am making all of this up but dang it sounds good :)

    • by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:23PM (#26362467)

      Just like with the 10G switches, this has all the earmarks of something for purely internal use rather than something they're planning to sell. That means their current vendor, which is Juniper according to TFA, loses Google as a customer, but that's about it.

      If anything, Cisco should be happy that their competitor is losing business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by alta (1263)

      I for one welcome my new free, yet perpetually in beta router.

      All you have to do is let them monitor all of the traffic that goes through them so they can data mine it for useful but anonymous markeing information.

  • If they do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:09PM (#26361297) Journal

    I hope they include sensible and up-to-date standards and protocols. I'm thinking about the possibilities of the interface of the tomato firmware and importantly, inclusion of ipv6 support. If we want this to happen in this generation we need to get software support on at least basic networking devices(thinking of routers and OSes).

    • Re:If they do (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kickboy12 (913888) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:44PM (#26361853) Homepage

      I really hope they throw in IPv6. There are no consumer-level routers available with IPv6 support; it's been driving me crazy. Everyone will probably be forced to buy new routers in a few years anyway.

      With that said, I think Google is probably developing a router for their own in-house use. I have doubts this will actually hit the consumer market.

      • Re:If they do (Score:5, Informative)

        by voidptr (609) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:48PM (#26361897) Homepage Journal

        The Apple Airport Express and Airport Extreme routers support IPv6, although there's a bug in the latest firmware for doing configured tunnels.

      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        Question related to IPv6 - is it a hardware requirement or a software requirement that is the issue right now? I recently bought a wireless router that I know can be flashed to DD-WRT (haven't done it yet). In the future could it be flashed to support IPv6?
        • by Daimanta (1140543)

          As far as I know, yes it can be flashed. I believe that consumer hardware can be flashed to support ipv6. Unfortunately that is not enough since you need to include ipv6 support in all software that likes to use the internet. We still have a long way to go but consumergrade hardware with ipv6 support would be a good start.

        • IP is entirely at the software level (level 3 for you OSI folks out there). The only part that's really hardware is OSI level 1, which describes the physical medium (e.g. copper wire or radio waves).
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The lines between software and hardware are actually really blurry. Most NICs, for example, have hardware which assists in manipulating packets--anything from simply managing the checksums to VLAN tagging. Some cards even come with prioritization in the ASIC. Then you get highly programmable NICs which basically include an FPGA and a programming interface. With these, you can implement a somewhat arbitrary portion of the TCP/IP stack in the FPGA.

            "But it's still softare!" you may cry. Well, maybe. But

      • On the plus side, a substantial percentage of consumer-level routers support a convenient firmware upgrade [openwrt.org]. Doesn't change the fact that the stock firmware is junk; but does make it far less relevant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by chaim79 (898507)

      It's interesting that Apple OSX has supported IPv6 for a while (probably a side-effect from using BSD) and Apple routers (Airport Extreme) supports IPv6 and (if I remember the specs right) tunneling IPv6 over IPv4 out of the box and enabled.

      While that does not represent the vast majority of the computers/home routers in use, this does show that some companies are trying to start the trend.

      • Vista also supports 6to4 out of the box. Unlike OS X, however, a Vista machine advertises itself as a 6to4 gateway on the anycast address, meaning that plugging a Vista machine in behind a NAT will break every other IPv6-enabled machine (including other Vista machines).
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:15PM (#26361377) Homepage Journal
    It seems likely to me that since Google is full of really smart people who seem to have a touch of the NIH syndrome, it probably isn't surprising that they wanted to develop their own routers from scratch instead of paying through the nose for Cisco or Juniper devices, especially since they needed hundreds or thousands of them and really don't want to have to pay for support contracts. I'd see a Google router announcement as just a productization of something they already use internally, just like Protocol Buffers.

    The problem is that Google develops tech internally that is extremely good at solving their problems, but they don't always apply well outside of Google. Protocol Buffers aren't exactly obsoleting XML and from all indications they probably never will. The Google router will probably be super fast and simple, but lack a whole bunch of the more obscure features. The problem is that there's someone out there for each one of those obscure features, and if you don't support it your product won't even make it in the door. This is a problem Juniper runs into a lot, they have good and fast hardware, but the only thing it does is route.

    In fact the article points out that Google's router is most likely to compete directly with Juniper instead of Cisco.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gladish (982899)
      I can see it now. In ten years from now the talk will be, remember that company that thought it could beat everyone at everything and wound up going out of business because they were spread so thing trying to solve every problem ever conceived.
    • by mshannon78660 (1030880) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:51PM (#26361957)

      The problem is that there's someone out there for each one of those obscure features, and if you don't support it your product won't even make it in the door.

      Too right on this point. I used to work for Cisco, and was always amazed at the number of bugs filed by customers around really obscure and esoteric features. Every one of those obscure features is in IOS because somebody (usually somebody big with deep pockets) is still using it... Even simple things like OSPF timers - they all have to be adjustable, because some big shop has decided that they can squeeze an extra .1% of bandwidth out of their pipes by fiddling with those timers - and if your new box requires them to reconfigure their whole network to standards (or worse yet, to the values that worked best in Google's network) they're not going to be very interested...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > ...it probably isn't surprising that they wanted to develop their own routers from
      > scratch instead of paying through the nose for Cisco or Juniper devices, especially
      > since they needed hundreds or thousands of them and really don't want to have to pay
      > for support contracts.

      When you buy thousands of routers you get them customized to your exact needs and you get whatever support arrangement you desire including complete drawings and source code.

      • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:31PM (#26362603) Homepage

        When you buy thousands of routers you get them customized to your exact needs and you get whatever support arrangement you desire including complete drawings and source code.

        Evidence? I've never heard of Cisco/Juniper/etc. offering this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AlecC (512609)

          This sort of thing doesn't get offered, it is thrown in or dragged out as a sweetener for a humungeous order. And it is usually covered by a confidentiality clause because they don't want to be forced to offer it to the next, merely large, customer. But if you are placing an order which represents a serious fraction of quarter's output, you can get a lot thrown in - espexially if it doesn't actually cost anything to provide.

          Though this would be a problem rather than a benefit for Google. They would have to

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HockeyPuck (141947)

        When you buy thousands of routers you get them customized to your exact needs and you get whatever support arrangement you desire including complete drawings and source code.

        Do you think that companies like AT&T who have 10s of thousands of switches/routers get IOS source code from Cisco? Do you think that ATT would waste resources on having people "reviewing IOS source code"?

        You get features/enhancements added because you buy so much, but you don't get schematics and source code...

  • If they're smart... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:18PM (#26361447) Homepage
    They'll be 100% on the up and up WRT implementing standards compliance, and will release every last detail as open source, no-strings-attached goodness for the world to use. Such an act would be a giant cudgel that they could use against arguments that they're embracing proprietary tactics. They should do for routers what Android is trying to do for phones.
    • What has Android done for phones?
      What is Android trying to do?

      • Android (Score:4, Insightful)

        by duguk (589689) <dugNO@SPAMfrag.co.uk> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:45PM (#26361869) Homepage Journal
        1. it's open source
        2. it's open source
        3. it's open source

        and probably some other reasons too [iphone-ipod.org].
        • How does open source do anything for phones?
          (Hint: It doesn't! 99.9% of people buying phones don't give a shit about open source, and never will.)

          • by duguk (589689)
            Well, it doesn't do anything for the phones; they're inanimate objects!

            It's for the users who appreciate it, like when Linksys WRT54G were 'hacked', it meant a lot to some people [wikipedia.org]. Isn't openness a good thing? Presumably that's why so many people [yellowsn0w.com] work on opening the iPhone to better freedom and development.

            Sure it's not for everyone, but openness, competition and freedom is usually considered a good thing!
          • by argiedot (1035754)
            You know, man. I do. While Symbian may be open source, Nokia Series 40 isn't. And there's this annoying bug. When you have a particular combination of tones set and you're using a stereo headset and playing music over the headset, receiving a flash message (like an SMS but it comes straight to the screen) will make the music player hang. Because S40 isn't really multi-tasking, you end up having to restart the phone. This is so annoying! If only I could get someone to do something.
  • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:26PM (#26361601)
    I can see it now...

    Z:\>ping 192.168.1.20

    Pinging 192.168.1.200 with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from 10.2.1.254: Destination host unreachable. Did you mean 192.168.1.2?
    ^C

  • Hopefully they will get IPv6 in as a standard feature. I get annoyed at being told I need to start getting ready for IPv6, only to find out that the Apple Airport is more or less the only one offering this feature out of the box.

  • doing it right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:30PM (#26361667)
    Presumably the people that would buy stuff just because it was made by Google are not a major demographic. So Google will need to do something to

    1) raise the barrier to entry, no point issuing a device that anyone could make with Linux and a '386. Also, many cisco routers (eg. the 1800 series) genuinely represent value for money.

    2) Provide good quality support.

    So to raise the barrier to entry, it has to be a pretty special product, maybe doing the most useful 80% of what a cisco does flawlessly and improving upon cisco in come other areas (ones I can think off of the top of my head are ease of deployment and virtualization (vrf)).

    The other reason people insist on Cisco, even when there are other cheaper options, is that they believe Cisco support their product well with training and technical support. This in my experience is an illusion. By and large the Cisco TAC is awful and maintaining certification is expensive and time consuming and the training materials are riddled with misprints, bugs and corporate "best practices" that are self-serving to Cisco.

    So Google have a huge hill to climb, but I'm sure that it can be done in the space of a couple of years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      I don't think it's that huge of a hill for Google. Remember the iPod? Came from nowhere. Google has a pretty good brand name. If their product slips out and performs well, there is no reason to believe that it won't be accepted as fast and widely as other Google products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        Yes, but Apple had an incentive and a business model that consumers could live with. I'm not sure that you can say the same thing for a Google router. There's no particular business model other than spying on the owner and I doubt that many people would go along with that without something in it for them.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Goodgerster (904325)

          for a Google router there's no particular business model other than spying on the owner

          You are aware of the idea of selling routers, right?

      • I have no reason to doubt Google's ability to put out a solid router, at least one that does the subset of routing that they would have a need for(I'm assuming this would mean light on the really esoteric stuff; but cheap, fast, and dense). I suspect, though, that the iPod is not a representative example. Except among geeks, some of whom were buying, and most of whom knew about, the various pioneering DAPs, the iPod was a given customer's first mp3 player and is seen to more or less define the genre. Once t
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:31PM (#26361683) Homepage Journal
    TFA says that Juniper is doomed because Google is getting ready to switch to their own in-house brand of routers. I find this difficult to believe for several reasons. One is that even if Google is Juniper's biggest customer, one customer does not a demise make -- Juniper has many other customers, including the entire UUnet (MCI, WorldCom, Verizon Business, whatever they're calling themselves this year) backbone. But there are far more practical reasons. Routers contain a lot of specialized hardware designed for rapid switching of packets. Google may have a lot of smart people working for them, but they certainly don't have the resources on board to design and build all of those ASIC's and other custom hardware, and it doesn't really make sense for them to get into that business during a recession just for an in-house project. (And no, don't give me that line about how a fast enough server with multiple Ethernet cards can substitute for even a mid-grade Cisco or Juniper. I manage a data center network and know the numbers. It can't even come close, no matter how good the software is, because a general purpose computer has to forward every packet using software, while a real router only makes a routing decision once and then all the rest of the packets for that destination are switched in hardware at wire speed.)

    Nothing to see here. Move along.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:44PM (#26361859)

      Of course Google would not waste time developing their own ASICs. Companies like Marvell, Broadcom, and Dune offer plenty to choose from, and companies such as FDRY and JNPR already use these to build their own offerings.

      It only makes sense for Google to use the building blocks to make a device that meets their specific needs.

      • Mod AC Informative (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mpapet (761907)

        Post is exactly right. The ASICs are already out there and in use by pretty much everyone for their COTS routers.

        When one gets into the carrier-scale equipment I don't have a clue how that stuff goes. But I've seen enough low-end ( $10,000) routers taken apart to know that AC's comments are accurate.

      • And if they did design their own, they could probably go to one of these companies and say 'we need 10,000 of these. If you fab them for us, you can keep the design and do whatever you want with it. Interested?'
    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:00PM (#26362069) Homepage Journal

      Or Google could buy Juniper. Let the rumor drive down the stock and pick them up at fire sale prices.

    • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:04PM (#26362149)
      "...even if Google is Juniper's biggest customer, one customer does not a demise make..."

      That really depends. For smart companies, they've sufficiently diversified their client base such that the loss of one will hurt but not cripple. Some clients, however, just become so damn big and a company simply can't get enough other clients or the increase the volume from the other existing clients high enough to balance against that one mega-client. Once one client represents a massive percentage of your revenue and the loss of that client would force you into immediate emergency restructuring in the hopes of survival, then yes, one client a demise can potentially make.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626)

      Routers contain a lot of specialized hardware designed for rapid switching of packets. Google may have a lot of smart people working for them, but they certainly don't have the resources on board to design and build all of those ASIC's and other custom hardware, and it doesn't really make sense for them to get into that business during a recession just for an in-house project.

      The questions really are: how many different types of ASICs and boards are in those routers plus how many of the ASICs cannot be r

      • It is clear that Google already has expertise in chip design

        What expertise have they demonstrated? Android doesn't mean much. That means they could design a router? Now creating a router that only supports a couple of protocols that they specifically need as opposed to the general purpose routers that require IOS/JUNOS and all the features they support.

        However if Cisco can go out and make servers, than I'm sure google could hire enough people to build a router.

    • TFA says that Juniper is doomed because Google is getting ready to switch to their own in-house brand of routers. I find this difficult to believe for several reasons. One is that even if Google is Juniper's biggest customer, one customer does not a demise make -- Juniper has many other customers...

      Agreed. I worked in the routing industry and Juniper has plenty of loyal customers yet.

      But there are far more practical reasons. Routers contain a lot of specialized hardware designed for rapid switching of packets.

      I'm not as firm on this one. There are a number of generic switching hardware manufacturers out there with nice platforms upon which anyone can build a Linux or NetBSD device with a little work. Also, you can get a lot out of many smaller devices working as a mesh when you factor in the cost of a lot of little generic boxes. It would not be so hard to start with switches and then start replacing routing hardware heading t

    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      one customer does not a demise make

      Well, as someone working in the auto industry, I've seen first hand how this is not true. We have many suppliers that are in trouble simply because Ford or GM has scaled back their production so much. I work for an automaker that still is profitable.. but we're getting hit hard because of supplier closings.

      For example, if Supplier X makes 1000 widgets per day, they have the employees, the equipment, and the building to do it efficiently and cost effectively. If,d
  • No Thanks. (Score:5, Funny)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:34PM (#26361711)

    My router works fine, and I don't have Google stealing all of my LAN packets and serving me ads.

    A fucking grouter had better make me warm delicious waffles if they want me to buy it. Even then, I'd only use it to make waffles.

    And now I'm off to amazon to look for a waffle maker.

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      I hear Google has already signed McCain onto an advertising deal for their new Router/Waffle-Maker combo unit!
  • That's a great marketing perk if nothing else. Why deny the claim when you can easily say "No Comment" and leave the world speculating. Positive spin like that is golden.
  • I have this mental image of a case with wide blue, red, yellow, blue, green then red stripes as well as similarly colored network cables, ethernet jacks, lights and buttons....

    BARF!!!

    Oh, I'm sure it'll work great - but hide that bitch in the rear of your rack space, that's for sure.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:00PM (#26362063) Homepage Journal

    Everybody seems to be assuming that these new routers will be for sale. That's obviously not going to happen — there just isn't room in the marketplace for a new player, even if that player is Google. Breaking into a new hardware marketplace is hard. You have to develop sales channels, create a hardware support organization, set up an operations organization to manage production, etc. etc.

    I know about these things because for the last couple of years my job has been to document some of Sun's hardware products. Before that I mostly documented software, and the shear complexity of designing, building, distributing, selling and supporting actual physical products still boggles my mind. At product team meetings I sometimes feel at sea, even though the technical concepts I have to deal with are actually much simpler than those I faced when I was on software product teams. The logistics are just mind boggling.

    Google isn't set up to be "in the hardware business". They make their own servers because there are no manufacturers that are able to meet their specialized needs. Now they seem to have decided that their routers also require specialized in-house designs. They haven't tried to sell these servers to other companies, and they won't try to sell their routers. Even if they could hope to compete, it would mean building up the kind of technical bureaucracy that Google's top echelon has no interest in managing.

    Hell, they don't really have a proper bureaucracy for the much simpler job of creating and distributing their software products. If they actually charged money for most of them, they'd be trouble.

    And Android? How does Android count as being "in the hardware business"? Is Google selling a cell phone I haven't heard about?

    • I think you're mostly right: Google will never sell specialized router hardware.

      However, I doubt that Google uses special router hardware even for themselves. I'd bet that a Google router platform would be based on a commodity PC with a few PCI Express gigabit ethernet adapters, installed with open-source routing software. Google likely has no interest in supporting the billion weird or legacy options that are present in the Juniper and Cisco products, so it's able to make a commodity unit that is a te

      • by drspliff (652992)

        Check the Google search appliance, sure it's just a standard 1U machine loaded with their software, but say they did the same with more networking ports and bundled it with some of their cool routing/loadbalancing stuff?

      • by fm6 (162816)

        I'd bet that a Google router platform would be based on a commodity PC with a few PCI Express gigabit ethernet adapters, installed with open-source routing software.

        I'm not an expert on this, but it's my understanding that a cost-efficient router is very different from a commodity system. Any computer can work as a router, but to route a lot of traffic cheaply you need specialized hardware. That's why the dominant player in the router marketplace is Cisco: they were the first to realize that there was a market niche that was never going to be filled by general-purpose computers.

        If ordinary data centers with a few thousand servers don't find it cost effective to use gen

  • by JustASlashDotGuy (905444) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:00PM (#26362083)

    Am I the only one who read this and thought, "Hmmm, it must be time for Google to renew their support contracts with Juniper.".

    "leak" a rumor about no longer needing Juniper, and watch juniper lower their support rates.

  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnaziNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:46PM (#26362903) Homepage

    Why go bringing CISCO into this. Apart from creating products people want to use (gmail, search, etc..) google has two main focuses: building a back end able to efficiently run those applications and ensuring the consumer has easy access to those services.

    Android and google's actions in the spectrum market weren't made just to fuck around with products outside their core competencies. They were strategic moves made to ensure that customers on mobile devices didn't end up directed away from google products by someone controlling the network or providing the handset.

    Similarly google isn't about to start competing in the router market just for kicks. It's outside of their core competencies and the potential for profit simply wouldn't justify the resource expenditure.

    Likely google is working on a custom router to help make their backend more efficient. To take an educated guess I would imagine that they want to build in intelligent load balancing into their routers. In other words have the routers maintain information about where certain kinds of data live and/or what machines are heavily loaded and then intelligently send requests for computations to lightly loaded nodes near the data. They might also want to simply build in custom handling of packets for things like GFS.

    Not only will google not bother to compete in the router market but I suspect they won't even allow the technology they use for this to escape the company. After all most of the people who would benefit from this kind of optimization are their direct competitors.

  • This one got tagged "googlefood", which I think is funny, but I feel compelled to mention that I dined on Google food for several months in the early part of this decade, when I was a temp at GOOG for 4 months. This was back when they had this guy named Charlie cooking for them. He used to be the personal chef for the Grateful Dead, and he was no slouch in the kitchen. Since GOOG gave you every meal for free in those days, and since I was making temp money, I took full advantage. Each and every meal was

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