Lately it seems like Google adds a new service to their lineup just about every week and the trend will continue with their new web host service.  Hosting user content is nothing new for Google; they already host millions of gigabytes of data for services such as Blogger, Picasa and Google Sites but now they plan to do something different and this time for a price.

Google will now provide a combined hosting and speedup service for customers’ websites.  As part of the service Google will reengineer hosted websites to comply with web standard best practices.  Unlike other Google products the new service will also cost a currently unannounced price.  Engineering manager Ram Raman described the service as follows:

Page Speed Service is an online service that automatically speeds up loading of your Web pages. To use the service, you need to sign up and point your site’s DNS entry to Google. Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying Web performance best practices, and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe. Your users will continue to access your site just as they did before, only with faster load times. Now you don’t have to worry about concatenating CSS, compressing images, caching, gzipping resources, or other Web performance best practices.

Speculation also suggests that by allowing Google to rewrite a websites code that their own proprietary browser Chrome will receive performance boosts by having content written specifically for it.

While the idea of Google hosted and rewritten websites is intriguing the prospect leaves a lot questions unanswered.  As a web developer I have encountered many websites that have been cobbled together in such a way that code fixes can take hours and still not match the original designs.  If Google plans to reengineer every site they host it begs to question how accurate the end product will be and how much the service will cost.  An even greater concern is accessing the data once it’s hosted on the Google service. Will users be able to make fast changes to the website and produce backups or will they be at the mercy of a Google technician.  If Google can pull off a successful launch of the service they could help revolutionize web design but as it stands now I’m skeptical.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department