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This shutdown had an incredibly healthy discussion internally. The reality is that this service had been unmaintained for a long while, but we'd previously chosen not to start this deprecation process until we had a GA service we could actually have someone migrate to (Cloud ML Engine).

Additionally, it turns out that very few people were using it. That's not an excuse, but the reality of ongoing investment. I fought hard for this to be our expected 1 year term, and we had hoped to have a somewhat cookie cutter guide for "Here's how you reproduce this with TensorFlow". Quite frankly, the handful of users of the prediction API likely aren't the kind to happily port to TensorFlow (and this service has existed since the sort of App Engine only days, so they're mostly hobbyists, but I still care).

It's never great to "have to" turn down a service, but ultimately when forced between letting the code rot and become a potential security nightmare versus give the small set of users some time to retool, the decision was made to go with the latter. No new features is an easy way to keep something running forever, but keeping the damn thing secure requires a team to stay on top of it.

Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud.




How much does Google Cloud spend on marketing and sales of its services, how much business do they lose from companies who believe that Google could shut down their services in a few years? How much would they have spent on maintaining this service?

I can tell you, from my experience at mid-market size non-tech clients looking to move to the cloud, that Google's reputation for shutting down services is known and is a negative. AWS' reputation for leaving services alive is also known, and is a positive.

When companies buy software, they don't want to have to worry about the future- they just want it to work.

"No one ever got fired for buying IBM" was a big driving force for IBM's success. "No one ever got fired for choosing AWS" seems to be true these days.

If you want that phrase to be "No one ever got fired for choosing Google Cloud"- you probably shouldn't deprecate services like that. I wonder if anyone got fired for choosing Google Cloud, after Google shuts down one of their services?


Trust me, I know. I do agree with the folks that argued that security compromise is worse than deprecation though.

My counter-argument is the same as yours: find someone to handle it, for as long as it makes sense (I personally jumped on a grenade for a short period of time, but that's not enough). As the commenter below argues, that's probably not indefinite, but it is likely greater than 1 year.

Quite frankly, this service should probably have never gone to GA. Plenty of products don't work, but instead of just going out into the marketplace to see what sticks, we should have what it takes to say "This isn't ready". (We have this now, we didn't then).

I appreciate you being patient with us, and understand how this affects your decisions going forward.


Totally agree. Seems Google wants to be in exploring mode at the same time as conquer the world mode.

It needs to have strict communication with its users. I like that they have some sort of focus and trim junk but they have to really communicate that with their users.

You have to be upfront on how many of your API's are in beta mode. I remember Gmail being in beta for 5 years.

May be this should be the new bar. If you can't get your shit working in 5 years then can it. If you can and enough users use if then support it for a lifetime.


Let me respectfully rephrase your argument.

Despite parent's logical argument and evidence, and despite further evidence that Google doesn't really shut down Enterprise services at industry-irregular rates, market narrative has been defined (mostly by Readergate), and you are more inclined to accept said narrative?

Alternatively, is there sufficient evidence beyond "market narrative" and Readergate that has allowed you to reach your conclusions?

(work at G)


> ...mostly by Readergate...

Oh, come on... seriously? This argument is trotted out every single time Google shuts down something: "you are still upset about Google Reader". No: we are upset about all of those other things that get shut down, and people from Google shifting blame to Reader over and over and over again is nonsensical at this point: there are so many many examples of things being shut down, and Reader was probably the least interesting to those of us who care about this sort of thing :(.

Here is something I wrote four years ago when someone (as from Google!) tried to pull the "you are just upset about Google Reader" argument.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6518473

================

They've shut down much more than Reader (seriously, who said anything about Reader? was that even a service a developer could rely on?). Even APIs they don't shut down, such as their OpenID login stack, they routinely replace (dropping a lot of the maintenance and support, which leads to weird failures) with "exciting new APIs" that have no migration path, such as with G+ Login (I am thankfully safe from this issue, as I did something crazy with Portable Contacts that have me Google user IDs that I started storing before we even knew what they meant; so, to be clear: I have very little personal axe to grind on this, but others should be wary).

They thankfully decided to just go commercial-ish with Translate, but the same can't be said about Charts (which had a long deprecation window and a replacement, but the replacement is a fundamentally different kind of API that has different browser requirements and even different charting capabilities). They also happily will just shut down things like Google Checkout and offer no replacement at all for key use cases like "sell a physical product" (if you sell digital goods, you might be able to switch to Google Wallet Objects, an "exciting new API" released a couple weeks before Checkout was deprecated).

Google Checkout was certainly also targetted at enterprises, had a clear business model behind it, and had existed since 2006: everyone who built on that one (again, not me: I avoided Checkout like the plague) got only six months to migrate to a different provider (and figure out how they are going to handle any refund requests from recent customers, which will surely be horribly irritating as they won't be able to just tell Checkout to refund the transaction anymore). There is simply a patterned lack of care for people who may have built things on their stacks.

(Yes, some services have deprecation policies, but let's not forget that those guarantees were themselves attempts to regain faith due to a previous round of services that had been axed with little warning ;P. After the anger died down from that they started reversing course, shortening or removing the policy entirely after the previous guarantees expire. I can only imagine the people who keep citing these deprecation policies don't have much memory of how this has all been going down over the past few years ;P.)

http://googledevelopers.blogspot.com/2012/04/changes-to-depr...

Yes: you might be able to find alternatives to migrate towards... but if, by just acknowledging this pattern, you could avoid that bullet--which could easily come at the "least convenient moment" (such as when you now have some competition out of nowhere while attempting to launch a new product and raise finding), requiring you to suddenly drop everything for a couple weeks coming up with a new implementation of key infrastructure before the clock runs out--why wouldn't you?

================

Two years ago someone (not from Google, this time) used that argument against someone again, and I linked to my earlier comment. A few people downvoted my link, and I responded with the following (which was upvoted, and my link was also upvoted back to 0).

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10330249

================

Multiple people (now three!) have downvoted this, but the idea that everyone who talks about Google service closures is complaining about one specific service--Google Reader--is the "meme" that we should all be quite tired of, as it is trotted out like a broken record every single time anyone points out reservations about Google's track record: no matter the context, no matter how many services have been shut down or cut down since, no matter what announcements Google makes about limiting their policies, and no matter whether the person mentioned Google Reader or not... it is even used against people like myself, who had absolutely no specific interest in Google Reader in the first place :/.

It is nothing more than a knee-jerk way to dismiss a rather easily defended position (due to the large number of closures that have been documented, ones that are more extreme or would have been considered less likely than Google Reader) by stereotyping someone's argument down to not just a "strawman" (an argument that is easily defeated), but essentially a purposely broken and laughable version of their argument so as to purposely ill-inform other people (which I feel the need to separate from a "strawman", as the goal is not to defeat the argument but to belittle the opponent). It is frankly one of the more underhanded argumentation tactics that people seem to enjoy defending here.

The reality is that Reader is a non-issue for most people here, as it isn't something you likely built your business or infrastructure around (and to the ones who ended up indirectly relying on it, that is a stretch to blame them for), but when Google randomly shuts down, cuts down, or entirely reboots APIs and services--something they have done many times, at the extremely painful end with things like Checkout and Login, but also with things such as App Engine or Charts--the fact that people seem to seriously have just forgotten how recent these things have been is distressing, and is made all the worse by people who insist on perpetuating "you are just whining about Reader" lie :/.


I appreciate your passion.

My argument isn't that Google doesn't shut down B2B services. It's that I have seen no evidence that Google does it at a vastly outlying rate relative to the industry.

IANAL, but Both AWS [0] and Azure [1] have 12-month deprecation policies - this is industry standard, as mentioned in the Google Developers blog you link.

[0] https://aws.amazon.com/agreement/

[1] https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/legal/subscription...

(work at G)


> IANAL, but Both AWS [0] and Azure [1] have 12-month deprecation policies - this is industry standard, as mentioned in the Google Developers blog you link.

Something to keep in mind but it's very difficult to find anything AWS has removed. They have APIs / features that have existed since their launch. While they may have such a policy it's essentially unheard of.

For Azure I'm not as familiar with but a few Google searches and I also can't find an API they killed.

There is a difference between a rate in practice and a rate in policy. I don't have the numbers to know what any of the big cloud provider's rates actually are but as someone who has worked for large companies and organizations one year is simply not long enough for almost any change especially one that is necessary for non-business reasons. Regardless of who's suggesting it.


I appreciate your passion.

What a shitty way to put down his well supported argument, shame on you. This isn't about his passion - he is refuting your statements with actual facts to the contrary, and you try to make him out like he is passionate about the whole thing (planting the idea that he is somehow not thinking with his head, but with his heart) as opposed to taking a well-supported position against your handwaving that this is somehow all about market perception. Do you work for the marketing department or something?

Political slimery. Ugh.


What is the shutdown rate of AWS & Azure that you've calculated, and what is Google Cloud's? If no one actually has these numbers, let's assume the perception didn't come from nowhere.


This is one of those occasions where evidence and material facts are irrelevant, what actually matters is how people feel about using Google products. Is the average developer going to feel confident about recommending a Google service to their manager?


I can't find even a single example of AWS shutting down a service.

In fact, one example, showing a potentially different philosophy across companies is AWS SimpleDB. SimpleDB is no longer on the AWS console - DynamoDB has replaced it, as AWS believes DynamoDB is a superior service.

That said, SimpleDB still functions perfectly fine. In fact, I recently spoke to an AWS manager who stated that they will leave SimpleDB out there as long as people keep using it.

Just one metric: How many services has Google Cloud shut down and how many has AWS shut down? Off the top of my head, I know of two Google Cloud services, and after Googling (Thanks!) I can't find a single AWS example.

The fact remains: If Google knows that this reputation is in the populace but still doesn't believe it's worth it to fight that with more than 12 months notice with (what appears) a small investment - is the reputation undeserved? If larger Google Cloud services start losing money, why should customers count on Google to keep those services up?

AWS comes out with new services all the time, and even if they are smaller / niche, I feel comfortable recommending them to my clients. For example Data Pipeline never really seemed that popular, and AWS has recently come out with a better product, AWS Glue, which the former Data Pipeline team has transitioned to.

Will AWS force customers to switch to the new, better AWS Glue? No, they will leave Data Pipeline, and their customers' investments alone.


I think the point is that with the resources Google have you need to appear perfect as well as be perfect. Commenting on message boards about how unfair people are to poor Google doesn't make me want to support your view. I'm not sure how important this API endpoint was but it's definitely another datapoint in the discussion. I wouldn't choose to rely on Google APIs any more and I think that quite a few people feel the same way. I might choose to use one of the endpoints that few others use and it gets shutdown.

I mean look at Stripe for a counter example, they seem to be super solid and are still on version 1 of their API, it literally never changes.


Marketing is all about confidence, regardless of the facts the public perception is that google shuts down services with wild abandon, that is a perception google needs to work to fix and your response merely confirms it


You've picked a tricky occasion for making this argument. AWS haven't announced that they're shutting down anything today, but the same can't be said for Google Cloud.


> evidence that Google doesn't really shut down Enterprise services at industry-irregular rates

I have not seen any actual numerical evidence on this (either for or against google).


One well reasoned comment on HN won't change the entire market's perspective.


I agree wholeheartedly.

My argument is that there is not sufficient evidence to claim that "Google shuts things down nilly-willy" within the context of B2B (conflation with B2C is the real issue here). Rational thinkers should be swayed by evidence, rather than "market perspective", especially within the context of what boulos posted.

For some perspective on "market perspective", see [0]:

https://twitter.com/gigabarb/status/839536072698712064

(work at G)


That's the problem. Humans don't respond to logic, they respond to emotion. And every time you try to argue logically, it comes across as tone deaf.

I have a personal interest in GC, however, in my previous day jobs I've shipped real products with AWS. And in my time with AWS... I can't remember anything important (or unimportant) being shutdown.

I can't shake the feeling, however wrong you believe the impression may be, that Google flails around in the dark while AWS hums along quietly.


I was using Google Wallet for the web. Not a huge number of subscribers, but substantial. Google shut it down with no migration path or notification to Wallet customers. Actually, it still seems to be running, but only for use with Google. (eg. Buying Google Drive storage)

I don't hold too much of a grudge about it, but it has shaped my perception of Google services. Except for the extremely established ones, the possibility of an early shutdown should be factored in before choosing to go with a Google service.


Ever? What if they had a 10 year deprecation policy?


10 years would be a reasonable good start for a deprecation policy for an API-providing infrastructure company.

It is not uncommon to have 5-year-old systems in production, and a factor of two above that sounds like a good minimum.


You (and the other commenter from Google Cloud team) do not seem to have compassion for the fact that migrating application code is very expensive.

1. Take a talented, valuable developer off whatever important task they're working on now.

2. Get them review whatever changes have supposedly been made between old version and current version.

3. Get them to read the existing code and think about places where it may break. (Often not obvious.)

4. Deal with doing the upgrade, which may often have dependencies that can break other unrelated things.

5. Write whatever code needed to make changes. (Often not obvious.)

6. Test on some sort of staging setup, which was probably written by some other person a while ago and may or may not have adequate coverage for this specific feature (since it was already working!!!).

7. Deploy and test in production.

8. Hope and pray nothing breaks.

All of that work (time and $$$) must be done to achieve ZERO benefit for your customer. High cost! Zero benefit! That makes developers (and founders) angry.

1 year deprecation is insanely short for public-facing infrastructure APIs. We should be talking about 10 years.


On the other hand, that's the reality of software development and should already be priced in. WannaCry was so painful because WinXP and Server 2003 were still in operation, and I bet that was because there were applications that just couldn't be migrated away.


Sure. But are you going to choose API provider "A" with a history of keeping stable APIs working 10+ years, or API provider "B" which can and does change stuff every year? What's your expected maintenance cost over the lifetime of the service?


Fair point.

On the other hand, Google is notorious for EOLing services that don't have a billion users, even compared to other cloud/web companies. That should be priced in.


I guess it could still make sense for tech-heavy, "we rewrite 50% of our code every month"-companies, like... Google?

Maybe they're mostly running their cloud to iron out the kinks im the API's they use themselves?


> 1 year deprecation is insanely short for public-facing infrastructure APIs. We should be talking about 10 years.

Thats a little extreme.


5 years ago was 2012. Do you have code written in 2012 still in production? Almost certainly.

10 years ago was 2007. So you have code written in 2007 still in production? Less likely, but I bet there are enough "yes" answers out there.


Most of my company's clients have code from 1997 still in production, and at least a third have code from 1987 still in production. A few have code from 1977 still in production.

I'll give you one guess what sector :D


There's a difference between code written and tools you used. Just to compare, 2007 was the time of python 2.5, Java 6 and Windows Vista.

I would certainly hope people have upgraded to newer tools than those.


And 2017 is the time of Windows XP and WannaCry.

What I'm saying is, those things are all still running in prod. I got an employer off Java 6 just two weeks ago. The next step is all the Java packages that were deprecated 5 years ago.


Right, and Windows XP was deprecated 3 years ago after a 12 year lifespan. That people are still using XP is, honestly, inexcusable. If you want a 10 year deprecation policy for something someone else is maintaining, you should be prepared to pay for the salaries of the engineers who will maintain it for the 5 years after everyone else has moved off the system, or just build your own api ;)


But many of the companies whose APIs you might have started using in 2007 are long dead: bankrupt; acquihired; pivoted into completely different verticals...

If you truly want API longevity at that scale, we probably need some force beyond that of quarterly-profit-driven companies to actually achieve it. Maybe some nonprofit (the Internet Archive, maybe) could offer "API insurance" packages, where—in exchange for your premiums—they'd build and maintain API-compatible replacements for any and all services the insurance-holders rely on, if said services should happen to die.

Then you'd just need to insist (with force) that all network-RPC-based "client" libraries have configuration to let you easily change their endpoints and expected X.509 trust anchors...


Kudos for giving people a year to migrate! I know you're getting drubbed by some for the forced migration, but a year is more than generous, particularly if indeed most of your customers are hobbyists anyway.


Just out of curiosity, is this API used inside Google at all?

I ask because it would probably be pretty tough to deprecate this API if it was being used widely internally too.




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