The edge-centric Internet

Summary:Why isn't the edge of the network the center? More computes and storage gets shipped to consumers than to Internet data centers, so consumers should help power the Internet.

Why isn't the edge of the network the center? More computes and storage gets shipped to consumers than to Internet data centers, so consumers should help power the Internet. And get paid for it.

P2P vs Internet data centers A new project, spearheaded by National ICT Australia, is now part of a €50 billion program to investigate innovative technologies. The project is called Nano Data Centers (NADA) and is part of the future Internet initiative.

The goal: learn how to deliver data from the edge of the network instead of from costly, power gobbling Internet data centers.

Consumer driven to consumer powered Google is famous for using consumer grade technology to build the world's largest and most powerful data centers. This project asks "why don't we use the technology that consumers are already buying to build virtual data centers?"

We already do. The Folding@home project already uses the power of PS3's and PCs to perform computationally costly research on game consoles. P2P file sharing already spreads bandwidth among many servers.

The technology is there.

The business model ISPs could package up unused storage and CPU cycles from their subscribers and sell them to major content and service providers. The ISP could charge a third less than what those resources would cost in a data center, keep half the money for themselves and be give the other half back to us.

At my house we currently have close to a terabyte of unused disk and 7 cores that are typically no more busy than any other PC. And that is without a PS3.

Amazon charges about $.15 a gigabyte for storage space. If my ISP sold it for $.10 per gigabyte and gave me a nickel of that, I'd be getting $50 a month just for storage. That would just about cover my broadband connection.

Is it green? Google noted in their paper Powering The Warehouse Size Computer that provisioning power cost as much as 10 years of power. The power distribution units, the diesel generators, the power monitoring and isolation equipment, all cost a lot of money. And then there is the air-conditioning equipment.

Spread that across 150 million American homes and that power provisioning cost goes away. We'd still use the power but we wouldn't have to build and transport all that equipment to a data center.

The Storage Bits take America probably won't be able to take advantage of this concept due to the slow build out of our broadband infrastructure. But the basic idea is a good one.

Why build what consumers already own?

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Data Centers, Hardware, Storage, Telcos


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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