3Tera, a company based in California, has announced what it calls a breakthrough technology - "disposable infrastructure". This technology is the foundation of their product AppLogic, which they say is the "first grid operating system that runs and scales existing web applications." It almost takes a Comp Sci PhD from Stanford to read 3Tera's press release, but in a nutshell what AppLogic does is allow Web companies to manage - and scale - all their applications, servers and storage with just a browser. Here's more from the press release:
"The system enables existing software to be packaged into completely self-contained, portable applications that can be easily deployed and scaled to dozens of servers on demand on any AppLogic grid, anywhere in the world. As a result, open source developers, Web 2.0 and SaaS companies can rapidly deploy Web applications without owning and operating hardware infrastructure, and pay only for the resources they actually use."
The term for this is 'utility computing', aka 'on-demand computing'. It means that a service provider makes available computer resources to their clients and charges them for the usage rather than the hardware. Kind of like a public utility such as your electricity company. Read/WriteWeb contributer Alex Iskold called this 'Compute Services' in his recent Web Platform Primer post.
Scaling Web apps
This extract from 3Tera's About page gives some background on the problems of scaling:
"Successful online services have millions of users. Serving that many users means scaling the application to hundreds and often thousands of servers. But scaling online applications is an enormously difficult problem. It took companies like Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon 10 years to learn how to do this well. This knowledge is among their most closely guarded secrets. It is not by accident thatGoogle has more patents on load balancing than on search.
3Tera has solved this problem. Our product, AppLogic, is the first grid operating system that runs and scales existing real-world web applications on grids of commodity servers. The breakthrough technology that enables this is called disposable infrastructure."
Dispose of your servers
So what do they mean by 'disposable infrastructure'? In the press release Vlad Miloushev, president & CEO, notes:
"3Tera is working with hosting providers to offer reliable self-serve utility computing services that make Web applications easy to deploy, manage and scale. In the next decade, only the largest enterprises will be able to justify owning and operating their own servers."
Interesting comment that in the near future only "the largest enterprises" will own and operate their own servers. I imagine in the future specialist companies like 3Tera, along with the big Internet companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, will operate 'server farms' that become too cost efficient for other companies not to utilize.
3Tera - a company to watch
3Tera strikes me as a company to keep an eye on - they're tackling a complex problem and they have a lot of potential customers out there. Look at all the 'web 2.0' startups that have popped up over the past year or so - most of them have big dreams of scaling up to hundreds of thousands, or millions, of users. 3Tera could be just the solution they turn to.