Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lighthouse and GDrive projects at Google?

Anyone know what the Lighthouse and GDrive projects at Google might be?

The PowerPoint slides from Google's recent analyst day mentioned Lighthouse and GDrive in the notes to slide 19:
With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).

We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS [Google Desktop Search], Lighthouse, but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today.

Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user's data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications. For example: a user's Orkut profile has more value when it's accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc.
Derrick highlighted these previously undisclosed projects in the comments to my earlier post.

Garett Rogers at ZDNet writes about the GDrive rumors today, saying:
The GDrive service will provide anyone (who trusts Google with their data) a universally accessible network share that spans across computers, operating systems and even devices.
Interesting. Back in August 2004, Richard Jones came up with a hack on top of GMail to use it for online storage. He called it GMailFS. Much speculation followed about whether Google would do a product for online storage.

I was skeptical about it at the time, but it sounds like Google may have at least done an internal project around the idea.

So, does anyone have any idea what Lighthouse might be?

Update: Richard MacManus at ZDNet also asks, "What is Google's Lighthouse?" He goes on to speculate that it might be "a security function that controls access to documents and folders ... a next-generation file search solution that 'shines a light' inside documents on your desktop."

Sounds like a pretty good guess. The latest version of Google Desktop Search (GDS) already allows you to store the search index for your documents on Google's servers. See

Perhaps Lighthouse is an extension to Google Desktop Search that allows you to open and control access of other people to the remote copy of the GDS index and your desktop documents.

That would mean that, if you wanted access to your desktop files remotely, you would have two options: (1) Use GDS and Lighthouse (leaving the master copy on your desktop) or (2) Use GDrive to upload your files to Google (putting the master copy remote on GDrive).

That sounds about right. It's what I would build if I were at Google.

Update: Several months later, Philipp Lenssen posts screen shots from a leaked copy of GDrive (codenamed Platypus). It apparently replicates and synchronizes all your files across multiple machines. It is only available internally inside of Google.

Update: Nearly two years later, the WSJ reports that "a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep ... could be released as early as a few months from now."


Anonymous said...

"For example: a user's Orkut profile has more value when it's accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc."

Maybe Lighthouse is a list with people that have access to your files on your GDrive? Could be useful for a collaboration system.

Anonymous said...

Interesting... perhaps Lighthouse is a security product?

Anonymous said...

Don't know for sure what Google's Lighthouse may be, but here is another information retrieval system named "Lighthouse", developed at UMass 5-6 years ago.

I'm sure Google's IR PhDs must know about this..

Anonymous said...

Well done Greg. Your comments have made it all the way to Sydney Australia. Your notoriety is spreading.....

Anonymous said...

Further to my comment above, here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Here is a guess. This is a guess.
Google has no intention of storing anyones data anywhere. What will happen is Google search engine will search specified files on peoples cumputers and then make them apart of there search engine.
This way you have no law suites because it is the consumer who decides what to be searched. This just makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe they just made the whole thing up?


It's a great way to get ideas about "what I'd build if I were at Google"

Plus I bet it means that Microsoft and Yahoo now have to devote a whole lot of resources to developing "something to counter lighthouse"

Anonymous said...

In two weeks,
I'll post google's real plans on project Lighthouse.

Notice, I called it Project Lighthouse.


Anonymous said...

I will post all of googles internal notes on Project Lighthouse here in two weeks unless you send me an email -- in which case I'd like to simply email you their internal release notes.


Anonymous said...

What a joke, phantom doesn't know anything. If he did, he could post at least a clue.

mb said...

Could Lighthouse be Google's answer to Flickr?

In other redacted comments (see Derrick's site for all of them) we hear about the release of "online photo management," and improving search through "integrating user feedback (ratings, comments, tags)."

Unless I missed something, I haven't seen any online photo management from Google yet - Picasa is a local tool in its current incarnation.

Anonymous said...

You're all wrong about Lighthouse. Should have read some poetry:

"Sail on!" it says: "sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man neared unto man.

- The Lighthouse, H.W. Longfellow

Jean-Marie Le Ray said...

Hi Greg,

First of all, thanks for the all story, it's really amazing. Now I tried to restore the presentation by binding each slide with its respective comment. You'll find it on my blog, I left everything in English after the first paragraphs, but I'll try to get the Google authorization to translate it. Just a dream...
Jean-Marie Le Ray

Mark Brown said...

Hi Greg (and ALL). I think the answer was put together by bob cringley (last resource on your list.

I took his source material, and I really think this is a brief summary here.
The first link (here) points to a summary of my original summary of bob's posts.
If you Start HERE, you will see
a trail, and pointers to the original source.

What I think in brief:
Lighthouse is the combination of the google datacenter in a truck
google fiberoptic network (between pop's)
google's TV ad server beta
Google pc or the
Google home media server

Quite a mouthful, but look closely!

Blog is at
(and I have almost 25 years in the industry)

Anonymous said...

Just installed the new Picasa build over the Beta and top right link become "Google Photos". This link to So Google Lighthouse is Google Photos.