Facebook Could Possibly be a Software Vendor

October 17, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Well this is, as strange as it sounds, a sound possibility. Facebook , the numero uno platform in the social networking world, could become a leading enterprise software vendor for the webscale world. Facebook can do just about anything, then why not this?

In the last couple of years, Facebook has released details on a number of its internal efforts to automate and simplify the management of its massive infrastructure. In July, it told us how it moved its 30 petabyte Hadoop cluster without taking it offline.

And, in September, it spoke about a system called FBAR that helps automate the resolution of system errors so much so that just two system operators can manage half the infrastructure of Facebook.

Looks like the company’s expertise can be capitalized on big time now, as webscale data centers are more common and the world consumes web applications and cloud services.

That is not it. Earlier, Facebook had explained how it moved operations to a new data center with a little bit of help from homegrown configuration, provisioning and a testing tool called Kobold.

Facebook has a plethora of entirely new products and techniques like the Cassandra NoSQL database and geographically distributed Hadoop clusters.

And, despite its reliance on MySQL, Facebook has put in a big deal to make the old database work past the maximum capacity it was designed with.

While Facebook could do it, Google is already doing it. The company has used its expertise in running a webscale search engine into enterprise services such as the Google Apps and the App Engine.

Yahoo also tried to cash in on its Hadoop knowledge through Hortonworks. This is what they all do: Develop skills in next generation technologies and then productize them when the market is ready.

Others will be ready to pay a huge amount for Facebook’s expertise. While Twitter, Reddit and Apple have all established their reputation in this regard, there are an emerging few, like the Zynga and LinkedIn.

They and the gen-next webscale companies are sure to run in to the problems that Facebook has already found solutions for.

Facebook could easily capitalize on its knowledge and expertise by consulting with customers on how to build their data centers and architect their applications, and then selling them the software tools to keep those apps up and running. What is your take on this?


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