Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Deregulation of Utility Computing and my Gmail account

I may be jumping the gun on this one a bit since there isn’t as of yet a “Computing Utility” the way natural gas, telephone and electricity are currently piped into my home. Thus, there is no need to deregulate the industry the way the natural gas industry was in the 1980s. But will there be?

Google last week announced their foray into utility computing with their Google App Engine. Google is opening up their computing horsepower to allow scalable, web-based application development for anyone. And it’s free. They aren’t the only ones doing providing utility computing. Amazon has been providing a similar platform called Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for a “resizable” computing capacity cloud and their Simple Storage Service (S3) for inexpensive storage services.

The idea of utility computing has been batted around as an idea for a while, but Nicholas Carr’s book “The Big Switch” makes an interesting correlation with the switch manufacturers made 100 years ago from providing their own electricity to tapping into the expanding power grids. Carr makes a compelling case that this is the direction of computing for businesses and consumers.

If you aren’t familiar with Carr, he is a bit of a lightning rod in the IT industry based on his controversial point of view of IT. He was just named #93 on the Ziff Davis Most Influential People in IT. Not everyone necessarily agrees with Carr’s view of IT, but he has forced the industry to take a look in the mirror and question the value being provided.

So you may be asking yourself, what does this post have to do with DIG and why did I start on the topic of utility computing? Honestly, there is not direct relationship beyond I have been having some “constructive” budgetary discussions with a client around disk storage sizing. When I got home tonight I asked myself “This has to be easier”, thus my research on utility computing. Why is it that I can get 6.6 gigabytes of free storage from Google for my email but not enough storage for a data mart? (btw – this is a hypothetical question and doesn’t need to be answered via a comment).


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