Sections of the Internet went down this morning. Because Google did.Over the past couple of years I’ve personally begun to notice the size and importance of Google to online life. Don’t get me wrong, I generally like Google and use gmail and especially their search engine. In fact any more there doesn’t seem to much in the way of a viable alternative to the Google search engine. Oh, nothing is perfect, but it’s fast and thorough, and you can usually find what you’re looking for pretty quickly. And Google Labs continues to create some fantastic web applications. Yet I would welcome some competition in the search engine market. But I digress.
My main concern these days was ever so slightly realized today. By having most of our Internet eggs in the same basket we set ourselves up for failure. Why did so many sites, some as critical as banking web sites, fail to load while Google was down? One reason I personally noticed was sites waiting on a response from analytics.google.com. This is the site statistic branch. Good stuff too, which is why so many sites rely on it these days. It vastly simplifies web site maintenance and development when you don’t have statistics to worry about. Or do you? Granted, this particular outage was only a few hours and in some areas people hardly noticed. But what would happen if it was a few days? Suddenly countless sites would not be reached because they’re waiting on Google to reply. But there’s no one home, and so they wait. Meanwhile what does that do to the neurotic Internet addicted masses who are not able to connect? Would we be faced with the breakdown of entire societies had the outage lasted a week? Of course it’s doubtful it would last so long with Google employees scrambling 24/7 to repair the problem.
This does raise some interesting questions. Are we becoming too dependent on one giant company to do everything for us? This sounds vaguely familiar doesn’t it? Doesn’t good, healthy competition actually drive people to new heights they may otherwise never have achieved? Not to mention provide some decent alternatives for those of us who like things a little different. Years ago I used statistic services until I realized this very problem of not only your server uptime being critical to your site’s operation but there’s as well. That’s when I stopped and decided to do it myself again.
So while we wait for Google dependent sites to load, what’s your favorite alternative search engine?