Phil Wainewright has an interesting post in which he looks at the future of the data center that Sun’s promoting as Red Shift, in which all the worlds computing resources ultimately rest in the hands of a few large utility operators. Sun argues this is the most efficient operating condition and that only a few companies will be able to deliver the technologies required to realize these utilities. Phil notes:
“. . . concentration of compute power in the network is in the interests of those who operate the large data centers. Sun, Google, Microsoft and Amazon will lobby hard for it . . .”
Economics, however, argue against this eventuality. The basic building blocks of a data center aren’t produced by these companies. The real sources of power are processors, memory, disks, switches, cables, cooling, electricity, etc. Although Google has begun to vertically integrate by building it’s own servers and reportedly it’s own switch, it’s hardly in control of all the resources required. In fact, none of the supposed five are. They will all be massive consumers.
I agree with Phil, that the power of the internet comes from it’s decentralization. That belief is one of the key reasons 3tera has chosen not to build out our own data centers but instead to work with hosting providers and system integrators who already possess this skillset and are very efficient at it.
Although I do believe we’ll see data center consoliation over the coming years as the cost of operating data centers within enterprises becomes untenable and the ease of adopting utility computing improves, I don’t believe this will make Thomas Watson correct (assuming you believe the quote) – the world will still need more than five computers.