Web scale

Lorcan 1 min read

I like the expression web-scale. It is used heavily by Amazon and others in discussion of their ‘platform’ services like S3 and EC2. Here is a description of EC2, Amazon’s on-demand computing infrastructure:

Call it “utility computing” or “Web-scale computing” or “on-demand infrastructure.” Whatever the case, Amazon is hoping that its new EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud–why not just S4?) Web service (in the larger sense, as both an interface and an on demand platform) will turn into a big business. In effect, Amazon is leveraging its massive infrastructure investment, providing it as a publically facing service for a variety of applications, first with S3 and now adding the server component. [» Inside Amazon’s EC2 | Between the Lines |]

Here is an example from Amazon:

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. [ Amazon S3, Amazon Simple Storage Service, Unlimited Online Storage: Amazon Web Services]

In an interesting analysis of the current position of Google, Rick Skrenta uses it:

Google has won both the online search and advertising markets. They hold a considerable technological lead, both with algorithms as well as their astonishing web-scale computing platform. Beyond this, however, network effects around their industry position and brand will prevent any competitor from capturing market share from them — even if it were possible to match their technology platform. [Skrentablog]

‘Web-scale’ refers to how major web presences architect systems and services to scale as use grows. But it also seems evocative in a broader way of the general attributes of the large gravitational hubs which are such a feature of the current web (eBay, Amazon, Google, WikiPedia, …).
Incidentally, Skrenta makes the arresting claim that Google has become the Web’s ‘start page’. He argues that Google is dominant in the third age of computing in the way that IBM and Microsoft were in the first two. Worth a read.

Most businesses on the net get 70% of their traffic from Google. These business are not competitors with Google, they are its partners, and have an interest in driving Google’s success. Google has made partners of us all. [Winner-Take-All: Google and the Third Age of Computing (Skrentablog)]

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