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Summary:

With our first conference behind us and the new design almost finished, it is time to focus on the task at hand: writing. I have been wondering about how to tweak the editorial mix to better meet the needs of our community. To that end, one […]

With our first conference behind us and the new design almost finished, it is time to focus on the task at hand: writing. I have been wondering about how to tweak the editorial mix to better meet the needs of our community. To that end, one of the topics I want to focus heavily on going forward is Internet infrastructure.

I think we are in a period of flux when it comes to Internet Infrastructure. How long, for example, can Dell or Sun continue to be box makers; when do they actually become computer utilities? Or don’t they? The old rules of the telecom hardware business don’t make sense in a world in which companies like Google and Microsoft spend billions of dollars buying networking gear. Nicholas Carr talks about these ideas in his new book, “The Big Switch.” What it means is a whole new way of thinking that includes new technologies, new startups and new ideas.

The infrastructure focus as I envision it would run along these lines: Internet data centers and related technologies, entertainment networks, client computers and other gadgets. The approach I plan on taking involves looking at new equipment offerings, bandwidth and capacity improvements, new protocols, startups — and how content companies influence it all.

What would be more fun is if you could help me shape the coverage. Let me know what topics you’d like me to write about, as well as if you’re interested in shorter posts or more contextual work, such as the piece on Google using its infrastructure as a competitive advantage. And who are the people you’d be most interested in reading about? The comments are open, and I eagerly await your feedback.

By Om Malik

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  1. i’d love to see:

    • Apps that are a changing (Web n.0, SaaS, Enterprise Apps) and their impact on infrastructure they need.

    • Gadgets and clients of all the ‘clouds’ we are going to have – from iPhones to virtual desktops/servers

    • Networks & Switching inside the computer, inside the data center, and inside the ‘clouds’ that connect the Apps to the Gadgets/clients

      the emphasis on everything ‘new’ like you say is great – i dont much care about v10.0 release of a cisco switch or juniper core-router.

      if even a minor fraction of what we do everyday within the “Enterprise” moves in to the ‘cloud’, we are in for the mother of all Infrastructure build cycles – much bigger than the 90s… and I am betting that a whole lot more than just a fraction moves in to the cloud.

    rohit

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  2. Om,

    I’m definitely interested in more contextual pieces. I think there are two types of pieces like that, both of which are valuable.

    One category is “deeper thought” type pieces where you analyze markets/trends/etc.

    The other is simply wrapups with some very light contextual thoughts, but then just a set of links to recent relevant pieces across the GigaOm network.

    I’ll respond later w/ some specific infrastructure areas I think would be interesting and important to cover.

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  3. A personal bias perhaps but I would like to see the impact of how some of the trends like “cloud computing” affect some of the networking infrastructure vendors. For example, if we move towards to a utility computing environment, the bulk of the spend may move from enterprises to fewer but bigger players. This may affect the bargaining power of the infra vendors negatively. On the other hand, if the needs of the utility computing players are so specialized, will they be better off backward integrating – similar to what Google does with their 10G switches?

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  4. Definitely a topic that doesn’t receive enough attention as it should. We’re undergoing a major infrastructure shift — the kind that happens once a decade. One of the least talked about aspects of this is the infrastructure software. Companies such as Google, Amazon, eBay and others have made their scale-out architectures relatively well-known, but there has been little talk about the changes in middleware/application platforms and how they fit in the overall trends in the industry as we are moving to “scale-out”, “cloud computing”. There are sights such as http://www.highscalability.com, who address it, but they tend to go more technically deep. You should be covering the business aspects of it, such as innovative products, whether from commercial vendors such as my own company – http://www.gigaspaces.com – or open source products such as memcached, hadoop, etc. Ther is a lot of innovation and interesting start-ups in this area that do not receive as much coverage.

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  5. I want to see offerings in how to do such more economically.

    but whatever you cover is great, being a good journalist, not just a reporter on news.

    YOu are doing very well!

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  6. Om,

    I would be interested in looking at what Amazon is doing with WebServices or SalesForces is doing with its SaS CRM. Dell with its current mindset cannot transition to utilities. At the most they will provide remote back-up facilities but beyond that its a big if. They don’t understand software, period.

    If i were re-searching this piece, i would take two case studies.

    1. Startups which are leveraging Amazon like WebServices approach to build their business. Not burning through their initial investment in cap-ex intensive hardware/network investments. Pay as you use and concentrate on innovating in the core business. Leverage internet infrastructure which companies like Amazon are offering.

    2. SMB business that have moved their business to SaleForce IT and thus eliminating complex ERP/CRM systems and thus high IT maintenance costs. It will be interesting to get their perspective on how outsourcing IT infrastructure and core CRM/ERP helps or hurts them in the long run.

    I will leave the protocols to another comment. this one is already quite big:).

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  7. Very much like you to explore this, since I am pretty sure you will bring a slightly different perspective than Nick. One of the interesting things here is that while Google is using infrastructure as a competitive advantage, in the majority of cases, the infrastructure is the ultimate commodity (the other Carr book comes to mind here “IT doesn’t matter). How these two worlds balance each other out will be interesting to read.

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  8. Interesting thinking here.

    I am a bit surprised though that you are referring to “data center” technologies as Internet infrastructure. Maybe I am being overly restrictive in my understanding, but, for me, Internet infra would typically be the large routers and switches being deployed in the access, edge and core of the network along with the cornucopia of transmission technologies. Given this difference in understanding of a popular term (infrastructure), can I request that you to clarify what you mean by infrastructure in your first post on this topic.

    Considering that I enjoy reading your reports, I would definitely like to read long posts. But, I would suggest that you put a summary/abstract at the top of long reports. That way your readers can star interesting reports for later reading and filing in the feed reader.

    Regards,
    Mahesh

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  9. Hi Om,
    Thank you, this is a great topic to explore. I think you need to define the kinds of competitive advantage that each of the players is carving out and how potentially they will win. The investments that Google is making now provide a barrier to entry into the search business as it is currently defined. Microsoft must try to meet Google’s investment to stay in the game. Microsoft may be innovative on the margin, but they are clearly the follower. The only way others will be able to compete is to find a niche or to change the game. I would like to understand what new computing models or business models out there that could threaten Google or Microsoft. Google has demonstrated that they can change their business model rapidly, but can Microsoft? Does either company understand their customers requirements well enough to be nimble when they have such huge investments in infrastructure? Or, will the infrastructure allow them to be more innovative? Will they “stick to their knitting” or will they defuse their energy so widely that they will become vulnerable?

    Just a few thoughts on the fly. I am looking forward to the debate.

    Ralph

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  10. Rahul Lakhani Friday, December 7, 2007

    Om,
    I see your vision on how internet infrastructure is changing rapidly and what the future holds. I agree with you in that adding more coverage will generate lots of interest in the reader community. I would love to see your take on what are the main drivers of internet infrastructure are. Is it cost savings or reliability of data in the “cloud”? From a consumer perspective I envision cost is not the main driver but reliability of service is. From the enterprise perspective cost savings would play as important a role as reliability.

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