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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Industrial-Strength Software

Via Twitterer par excellence Geore Dearing and his Enterprise Content Management blog, I found this article by blogger Nick Carr published in the Guardian. Nick focuses on a rarely discussed side-effect of the move towards internet-hosted applications: the need of software companies to maintain their own vast server farms. Pointing out that firms as diverse as Google, Microsoft, and are all in the midst of plant expansions to boost their online capacity, Nick comments that.'s software companies are finding that, as more computing tasks move online, they have to compete not just on the elegance of their programs, but on their ingenuity and efficiency in buying and deploying physical assets - land, buildings, computers, and other gear - as well as managing the huge amounts of energy required to keep all the machines running.
As Nick points out, one of the industry-shaking implications is that the capital barrier to competing in the software field is beginning to change. Traditionally this was a field that did not demand a backbreaking investment from a start-up, but that may be changing.

Another implication is the energy footprint of computer use. As server infrastructure grows (just glance at these articles on Google's development projects in Iowa, and North Carolina) energy use increases as well. According to a study done at the Lawrence National Laboratory at Berkely, in 2005 server farms already consumed a whopping 1.2 percent of the total electricity produced in the U.S. Clearly online computing is destined to be an even greater consumer of energy. Read more about the energy implications of computing in The Green Wombat.
image of Google Campus originally uploaded as

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