After reviewing the impressive Google File System, I wondered about Google’s competitors: MSN, AOL and Yahoo. Is it possible to quantify the economic advantage of GFS over conventional enterprise architectures?

NetApp’s web site notes that Yahoo Mail uses NetApp equipment. They also claim in one of their 10-K reports:

NetApp success to date has been in delivering cost-effective enterprise storage solutions that reduce the complexity associated with managing conventional storage systems. Our goal is to deliver exceptional value to our customers by providing products and services that set the standard for simplicity and ease of operation.

Uh-huh. Like those 520 byte sector disk drives with the Advanced Margin Enhancement Technology?

The Smackdown: Yahoo vs Google
The idea: compare the revenue returned for each dollar of IT capital cost for two tech-savvy, leading-edge internet firms. For every dollar they invest in IT, what do they get back in revenue? Capitalism 101. Since IT is virtually all they do, the differences should be stark

I chose Yahoo! to compare to Google, since they are roughly similar in revenue, they each run always-on data centers with at least 100,000 servers, and they offer a similar range of services. AOL and MSN are both part of larger companies, so digging out numbers would be difficult if not impossible.

Another YHOO/GOOG similarity: Yahoo also uses open source software: FreeBSD, Apache, and Perl. So the differences between Yahoo and Google should be mostly hardware, not software, except for, I’d guess, proprietary management software. And since storage is typically the largest part of IT capital expense, that hardware should be mostly storage. NetApp for example.

Stalking the Wild IT Numbers
This is where I explain where the numbers come from. If you are a financial type you’ll want to know, but most of you can skip ahead to The Bottom Line. The numbers are conservative. The YHOO problem is worse than they indicate.

Read The Rest of Killing With Kindness: Death By Big Iron