I was watching a video of a panel from the Web 2.0 Summit on ReadWriteWeb. I've had a growing fascination with Cloud Computing in recent months, and this particular panel included key players from Google, Salesforce.com, Adobe and VMware (with Tim O'Reilly acting as panel moderator).
As each man made his opening statement, one statement in particular jumped out at me from Dave Girouard, who is president of Google's enterprise division. Girouard stated that his company's long-term goal is to open up the Google development stack to outside developers. If this is true, then it could have some serious long-term implications for developers who could use Google services in new and interesting ways.
Before we jump the gun too far, fast forward to the 10 minute mark of the video and listen to what Girouard has to say. For those of you who don't want to click the link and play the video, let me quote:
"We want to open up the Google stack, the Google platform in many, many ways, and in the end if we do it right, you will have the same access to Google that our own developers do, and we are a long way from that..."
So what's stopping Google from doing this today? If this is truly the long-term goal of the company, and we have no reason not to believe that it isn't, then why not simply do it. Even Microsoft has exposed its services to outside developers with the Azure announcement a couple of weeks ago. If Microsoft, one of the more closed companies on the planet can do it, then if Google sets its considerable resources to the task, it seems that it could do it too and sooner, rather than later.
What Does it Mean?
If you parse the sentence, you see he says he wants to open it many, may ways. It's hard to know if that means he truly wants to open the platform or open it in a way that still gives them an element of control a la Apple. Who knows if Girouard even meant open in the same way I think of it, as in open access or full code access. One would assume if you could access it in the same way as Google Engineers, you could create your own applications based on the platform, add different functions in a similar manner to the way Google engineers build on existing functionality in Google Labs. Just recently, for instance, Google engineers added a Google Calendar and Google Docs gadget, that give you direct access to these Google apps from Gmail.
Imagine, a community of developers being able to build functionality on top of Google applications. It would enable companies and individuals to build missing pieces on top of the existing apps, and expand those apps in ways we can't even imagine. To speculate even further, you could have an App Store-style destination where you could pick and choose applications built on top of the Google stack. The possibilities are really quite exciting.
For now, I'm taking a simple statement and speculating what it might mean, but if one assumes that an executive like Dave Girouard chooses his words carefully, then perhaps it was simply his way of letting us know that a more open Google is on the way. They only have to pull the trigger and implement it. Here's hoping I didn't read too much into this and that is exactly what's going to happen.
What do you think? Will Google open its stack, and if it does, what does it mean? Leave a comment and let me know.