Utility Computing

October 21, 2007 - Sunday
Wandering observations on a Sunday morning...

Computing is moving from something you own to a service you subscribe to. We are witnessing, and are a part of, a transformation in business, society, and culture. This is a fundamental shift in how society is organized that we will look back upon 50-100 years from now as seminal as the printing press and the movement from hand copied texts to mass produced words. The printing press undermined the power hegemons of the church and monarchies. The Information age and Web 2.0 waves are re-shaping existing power structures ... more thoughts on this to come. -- Brian

To put it into context: first review Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and his knuckleheaded understanding of this new world. This way of thinking is dead and doesn't know it yet. Then read this blurb from Nick Carr - this is where we should be focused.


"Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."



Nicholas Carr, The Big Switch

A hundred years ago, companies stopped generating their own power with steam engines and dynamos and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities didn't just change how businesses operate. It set off a chain reaction of economic and social transformations that brought the modern world into existence. Today, a similar revolution is under way. Hooked up to the Internet's global computing grid, massive information-processing plants have begun pumping data and software code into our homes and businesses. This time, it's computing that's turning into a utility.
The shift is already remaking the computer industry, bringing new competitors like Google and Salesforce.com to the fore and threatening stalwarts like Microsoft and Dell. But the effects will reach much further. Cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did. We can already see the early effects — in the shift of control over media from institutions to individuals, in debates over the value of privacy, in the export of the jobs of knowledge workers, even in the growing concentration of wealth. As information utilities expand, the changes will only broaden, and their pace will only accelerate.

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google will be published on January 7, 2008.