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Agile Computing: Article

The Future of IT Infrastructure Looks To Be "Cloud Computing"

Amazon EC2 allows new companies to match the infrastructure of large-scale search companies on a startup budget

As anyone who follows SYS-CON Media's multiple Internet technology portals is aware, we pride ourselves on helping you keep your watch set five minutes ahead of everyone else's in the industry. A good recent example would be our gradually increasing number of articles here at Web 2.0 Journal on the on-demand phenomenon that is becoming known as "cloud computing".

Recently popularized by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the new on-demand, pay-as-you-go storage and computing service, cloud computing is shaping up to be the future of infrastructure. Amazon, for example, last year launched a web service called Amazon EC2 that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud.

On November 28, 2006, Amazon.com Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos keynoted at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. He spoke about how Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) web service from Amazon Web Services, in beta at the time, was being used by Powerset, Inc., a natural language search engine company. Powerset was EC2 for the computing capacity necessary to run its business.

In an announcement released to coincide with the Bezos keynote, Powerset's Founder and COO Steve Newcomb said:

"I'm very pleased with our relationship with Amazon. By using Amazon EC2, Powerset is able to match the infrastructure of large scale search companies on a startup budget. Amazon EC2 is a key enabler for Powerset's business strategy now and in the future."

"Innovative, customer-focused companies like Powerset are ideal for the web-scale computing solutions offered by Amazon Web Services," added Steve Rabuchin, Director of Developer Relations for Amazon Web Services. He continued:

"Powerset can focus on their mission to build a revolutionary, highly-differentiated, game-changing search product for their customers, while we focus on making sure Powerset's undifferentiated, non-customer-facing, yet mission critical computing needs are met at a highly-affordable cost to them."

Web 2.0 Journal will continue to follow the still emergent new IT paradigm.


What Does It Mean To Be a Web 2.0 Company?

Lessig vs Carr: "It's Been a Crazy Couple of Days in the Blogosphere"

AJAXWorld Conference & Expo 2007 East speaker John Eckman has been summarizing on his blog a recent digital fracas between Lawrence Lessig (pictured) and Nick Carr on what it means to be a Web 2.0 company.

"It’s been a crazy couple of days in the Blogosphere," Eckman comments at the outset.

Here's how he sets the scene:

"It all began innocently enough, with a post on Lawrence Lessig’s blog: The Ethics of  Web 2.0: YouTube vs. Flickr, Revver, Eyespot, blip.tv, and even Google, in which he tried to make a distinction between 'fake sharing' and 'true sharing.'

 

The basic concept was that 'true sharing' sites permit 'content to move as users choose' - letting users download content whole, not just view it in the context of the host site. 'Fake sharing' sites, of which YouTube was the example, don’t actually enable you to download the content, only to view it. (Yes, there are firefox extensions, and greasemonkey scripts to get around it, but YouTube themselves don’t make it easy to actually download videos)."

Eckman then reports how Nick Carr, on reading Lessig's post, wrote his own post entitled Web 2.0lier than thou, linking Lessig to “digital maoism” (via Jaron Lanier) and arguing:

"Lawrence Lessig . . . suggests that some Web 2.0 companies are not fit to wear the Web 2.0 label. There are real Web 2.0 companies, and there are sham Web 2.0 companies. There are those that maintain their ethical purity, that obey the Code, and there are the transgressors, the ones that have fallen from the shining path."

Lessig, Carr argued, was painting YouTube as a 'villain' and a 'counterrevolutionary force that threatens the web’s emergent communalist state.' Further, Lessig’s goal was, according to Lessig, to “promote . . . the ideology of digital communalism in which private property becomes common property and the individual interest is subsumed into the public interest.”

In John Eckman's view, Nick Carr was guilty of  "jumping on the opportunity to deflate what he sees as Web 2.0 optimism about shared content and user contributed content - a recurring theme on Carr’s blog - and got carried away in the rhetoric." Rhetoric that, in Eckman's view, distracts from the real point Lessig was trying to make.

Eckman believes that the nub of the issue is that "enabling users to share videos is exactly what made YouTube successful. The fact that the sharing is via embed rather than download is just an implementation detail." Lessig’s point, in Eckman's view, is that what he calls 'true sharing' is ultimately a better business strategy that what he labels 'false sharing':

"That is, his argument is not ‘do X because it is good’ - his argument is ‘do X to keep and spread the success you’ve had.’ ...

The great majority of YouTube users only want to watch the video (and generally only once), not have a copy of it. What YouTube did not try to do was restrict where people could share videos - they explicitly enabled users to embed videos anywhere they wanted, on the web. You did not have to go to YouTube’s page to view videos, the player was directly embedded."

Eckman summarizes the essence of the discussion, as he sees it, as follows:

"YouTube’s success, then, isn’t an example of the counter-revolutionaries winning (as Carr would have it) but yet another example of how enabling content sharing leads to success."

He then adds, in a subsequent note, a twist to the whole debate:

"The Cease and Desist letter YouTube’s law firm sent to TechCrunch adds an interesting twist here as it puts YouTube in the position of trying to work against the widely available methods for downloading YouTube movies and retaining local, offline copies. Best way to locate alternatives? Google, which of course now owns YouTube. Will Google send itself a cease & desist letter for linking to pages of directions on how to do this?"

Web 2.0 Journal will continue to follow the discussion.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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