10 innovators changing the game for Internet infrastructure

The world of information technology is always changing. But over the last six years it has started to change more rapidly with the genesis of cloud providers, the growth in the number of giant webscale companies, and the widespread use of virtualization in enterprise environments. A new era is upon us.

In the next five years a new way of thinking about, constructing and operating IT will emerge. Data centers are no longer the size of mini-marts but instead are mega-marts like Rob Roy’s 2.2 million square foot Switch data center in Las Vegas. Servers are no longer the unit of computing, but instead are being taken completely apart or are a mere component in the new data-center sized computer, a trend being pushed by Frank Frankovsky at Facebook and at the Open Compute Foundation.

The walls between data centers will also matter less and less as software defined networks help create secure, flexible bandwidth between data centers and eventually continents, which folks like Martin Casado of Nicira are working on. This new era sees infrastructure as a service and the hardware becomes a fungible element, supporting a river of data and applications that flow on top of it. The U.S. government is certainly taking advantage of this shift with its Digital Government Strategy, led by U.S. CIO Steve VanRoekel.

At GigaOM we’ve chronicled the development of this new era in our day-to-day writing and we’ll highlight these trends this week at our 5th Structure 2012 show on June 20 and 21 in San Francisco. Most importantly, we celebrate the people who are orchestrating this change — those who are building systems to enable and take advantage of it. Like any big shift that occurs over years, there are hundreds of influencers who will play a role, but we’ve chosen these ten who are instrumental in driving the vision. And now let’s meet them:

Images courtesy of IntelFreePress, DNAnexus, Nicira, Jonathan Koomey, U.S. government, Switch, Github, Facebook, Calxeda, Bromium, and Zynga.