The Google File System (GFS) has been described as the operating system of the Internet. We’ve talked about GFS as a product platform that offers brilliant benefits. Typically, after a company has laid a software foundation, they start to push layers onto their technology stack -- to make development easier.
Review the layered design of OS X. At top, you’ll see the Cocoa application framework. Cocoa provides building blocks that are already programmed and waiting for you to play with.
Now, I haven’t talked to Google management lately (truth is, I’ve never talked to Google Management), however, I have a feeling that application layers will be built on top of GFS. Or as John Battelle writes -- an application server for business innovation.
Why do I have this feeling? Simply by the approach taken with GFS. The next step would be to create and improve the development capabilities needed to grab a competitive advantage.
In Leading Product Development, author Steven Wheelwright describes the energy source role. In this role, managers deliver resources, capability, services, and support to their team. “For this to work, managers need to get into the service business... they must understand how to succeed by developing functional capabilities, processes, and tools that can be parlayed by development teams.”
Google has placed a solid bet on GFS. While other software companies may teeter on a foundation of sand, GFS is the bedrock on which other Google apps can be launched. It’s like building a sky scraper. Once the cornerstone is in place, it's a snap to add floors. GFS allows for rapid-fire improvements to application software and -- fosters innovation.
Steve Jobs comments about innovation during a 2003 conference call:
With Mac OS 9 and the current Windows it's like you have a house that's eight stories and when you want to add on that ninth story, you spend 80 to 90 percent of your energy not working on the ninth story but shoring up the first eight stories, because if you put the ninth story on, it will collapse of its own weight. ... With OS X we don't have to do that any more. We can spend 90 percent of our time adding floors above the eighth floor, and so look at how much faster we can go.Creativity consultant Pamela Meyer writes of seven competencies for improvisation. She leads with flexibility.
We're seeing tremendous software innovation within Apple because of that, both in the operating system itself and the applications that go with it, as well as our applications division.
Flexibility -- Beyond cutting costs, streamlining operations, and increasing efficiency, working “smart” means looking for ways to improve responsiveness and flexibility.You see, flexible software allows employees and partners to drink from the wellspring of innovation.