This blog posting by former Google employee Steve Lacy, What Larry Page really needs to do to return Google to its startup roots, suggests some of the challenges of growth. Google of course has done great things, but is the business stretching on the edge of its scale and growth? He writes:
Google Scale” is a myth.
Yes, I said it.
Google Search (the product) requires vast resources. Almost nothing else does, and yet is constrained and forced to run “at Google scale” when it’s completely unnecessary.
Giving engineers the freedom to think & design out of the box with respect to infrastructure and systems means you’ll be more efficient in the long run. Providing reliable platforms and data centers means you’ll have less redundancy, and be more efficient.
Given that a single machine can easily have 64GB of RAM, 10TB of disk, and 8 CPUs, it’s amazing that any product launch needs more than just a couple of that class of machine. Let engineers push the boundaries, make mistakes, and run on the edge.
A small system that falls down under load is a huge success
A large system that’s wasting resources and has only a few users is a huge failure.
The intrinsic strength of large businesses — the ability to deploy huge amounts of capital in massive projects — can also create limits, barriers and of course opportunities for nimble, agile and resourceful smaller businesses and entrepreneurs.
I’m not saying one way is right and the other is wrong. You simply aren’t going to be able to design and build a multi-billion dollar project without the capital, depth and resources of a larger organization. But if you are small, you can count your blessings, as well. It doesn’t hurt to think big — yet still be not be too large.