An article popped up in Wired on September 10, 2012 entitled "Mystery Google Device Appears in Small-Town Iowa". From the sound of the headline, I expected for the device to be something you might see in Roswell, New Mexico, and it was not helpful that the device is called a Pluto Switch. But alas, the tin foil lined hatters among us can relax. There is probably a better explanation than Google having wired the solar system. To me Google has always been about speed, innovation, efficiency, and accuracy. There are tons of switches out there that have enormous capabilities, so why would Google be interested in manufacturing their own stitches?
Google's speed is accomplished using a variety of proprietary methods. If they were to ask a manufacturer to strip down a switch to do just the things they needed, and to do them very quickly, Google risks technology leaks. Also, seeing that what Google needs is hundreds of network dragsters, nobody is outfitted to make that, and modified coupes will not do. A home grown switch can be entirely purpose-built to fit Google's needs without the overhead of features that will not be implemented. The control over hardware functionalist is only half of the benefit Google get's from their home grown switch. They also have full control and design authority over the software. This way they can make exactly the switch they need and continue to set the bar in search engine speed and several other technologies.
Another thing I find interesting in watching vendors taking new ideas like ultra-fast switches to market is this - the vendors rarely make a management suite compatible with these devices and with common industry network management. That is just not their goal. But this is our sweet spot at SolarWinds!
Google has a great track record of turning out products and services that most of us didn't see coming. It is interesting to get a glimpse into how they make that happen. Now that they have the Google car, and space is only a 2 hour drive, I really hope they are working on vertical driving!