From the Water Wheel to Utility Power – A Comparison to Utility (Cloud) Computing

Cloud Computing2 minutes readSep 28th, 2011

One of the most interesting and enlightening books I recently read is called The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr.  The book isn’t new; it was actually published in 2008, but, boy, does it tell a great story!  For anyone who wants a truly insightful and compelling comparison of utility computing to utility power and how it all relates to the cloud – this book is for you.

Maybe I’ve been around the industry too long and have witnessed too much, but this walk through time, comparing electricity and computing, is one of the best.  His description of how electric power started out as separate infrastructures in individual factories and evolved into centralized, shared, metered and scalable distribution systems  just resonates as he compares this to how computing, also housed in separate data centers, is evolving to centralized, shared, metered and scalable cloud.  For computer history buffs, this is a great read on the evolution from Hollerith to Google.  He even takes us back to before electricity, to water power using Burden’s Wheel as an example.  The analogy just comes to life and when you’re done reading you, too, will conclude that Cloud computing is here to stay and is truly fashioning society for the twenty-first century.  Here’s an excerpt:

“In the years ahead, more and more of the information-processing tasks that we rely on, at home and at work, will be handled by big data centers located out on the Internet. The nature and economics of computing will change as dramatically as the nature and economics of mechanical power changed with the rise of electric utilities in the early years of the last century. The consequences for society – for the way we live, work, learn, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even think – promise to be equally profound. If the electric dynamo was the machine that fashioned twentieth century society – that made us who we are – the information dynamo is the machine that will fashion the new society of the twenty-first century.”

If you have any interest at all in Cloud/Utility computing, read this book. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Tags-   Cloud computing Nicholas Carr