Page Two

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2003-05-19 Print this article Print

Of course, if you ask someone in the pay-as-you-go utility computing business, they will tell you that the subscription model, with far fewer fixed costs, rapid deployment and manageable expenses, is the wave of the computing future. George Kadifa, CEO of Corio, said the utility model "turns the IT cost structure from large fixed cost to a variable and predictable cost structure."

And the people actually wrestling with the utility concept? "The funny thing about the term utility computing is that I dont know of anyone that has ever said they like their utility company," said Darby Group President Carl Ashkin. One CIO, a year into an outsourced utility computing project and requesting not to be identified, told me, "We were running a pretty tight organization, and, perhaps as a result, we have experienced none—repeat, none—of the efficiencies promised from centralization."

One other CIO, also asking to remain anonymous, said he is not ready to start looking at utility computing until additional safeguards are in place. "We dont discuss utility computing here yet because utility computing implies shared-CPU computing," the CIO said. "Co-processing with strangers is still too premature a technology."

Which gets me back to the elephant. Back in 1903, Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse were battling for control of the U.S. electrical infrastructure. Edison was promoting his direct-current technology as safer than Westinghouses high-voltage alternating current. Overcome with competitive fever and apparently losing control of his considerable senses, Edison took to holding public demonstrations of the inherent dangers of AC by electrocuting animals. A grim, final demonstration saw Edisons company zapping a 3-ton pachyderm named Topsy at Coney Island. AC won anyway.

Now, while I dont think data can down an elephant, I do think the utility vendors need to carefully build their case for utility computing based on testing and case examples before their claims reach the level of data delivery that is too cheap to meter.

More Opinion from Eric Lundquist:

Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.

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