Fascinating article over at I, Cringely about the thinking required to build a global large-scale infrastructure. There was a video at some point on Google that showed that they had 100,000 servers in 20 data centers (anyone has the link? I think it was a CBS show).
In this example, he talks about a free service such as gmail offering 4 GB to the 200m internet users in the USA. He goes on to calculate the number of disks required, the space it would take up in a data center, the amount of energy spent, etc.
Although this calculation is a bit rough, try to imagine what it would cost anyone offering a video sharing service with 10GB of storage/user (hey only about 15 divx movies…). You need to factor in therefore larger disks, streaming servers, bandwidth + peering, more users around the world, etc.
I really like his last section:
“ This is the kind of planning and provisioning required to support FREE services. Add pictures and especially video and the total data storage requirements go up by another two orders of magnitude, much of that supposedly still supported by ads.
That's a heck of a lot of ads.
My point here is that we're entering another period of Internet exuberance. Yes, a lot has changed since 1999, but it's amazing how many of the ideas being pushed are the SAME ideas, just empowered now by dark fiber, cheap broadband, and six years of Moore's Law. And this time I think it will actually work and the Internet will change even more than it has the ways we live and work. But it isn't going to come easy and it isn't going to come cheap.”
Now playing: Adam Curry - Daily Source Code for Thursday October 27th 2005 #268
Update: waow, just a few hours after posting this, I stumbled on this note by Typepad's founders explaining their recent availability issues. Indeed, running a web service still required heavy telco and sysadmin skills. Adam Curry is hiring like crazy on his shows (listen to the Jobcasts) for his infrastructure.