Virtualization, outsourcing, ASP, ... Jonathan Schwartz signals a Sun announcement about 'computing utility' services. He provides some nice ways of talking about this phenomenon which could be applied to what we have historically known as 'bibliographic utilities', and also to current initiatives which look at providing shared infrastructure in the information space. See, for example, the JISC Information Environment or the California Digital Library (which is here discussed as a utility provider).
And here's a view on why this is one of the most important announcements we'll make this year: what Google, eBay and Salesforce.com are proving are the economics of using someone else's uniformly standardized infrastructure to run your business. Sun's business, historically, has been the opposite - we deliver infrastructure to customers who work with us to customize that infrastructure to unique workloads. What salesforce.com and others prove is that there are some workloads for which the reverse can be true - mapping the workload, like salesforce automation, to a singular service provider with a common infrastructure, yields savings from economies of scale that vastly outweigh any potential expense in changing workflows/workloads. The ASP (application service provider) model is, in fact, a great model.
One man's virtualization is another man's web service. The era of mapping workloads to network service infrastructure is officially underway. [Jonathan Schwartz's Weblog]