tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Jan 25, 2005 6:11am

here comes the infocloud

According to Wired (and Slashdot):

In Austin, Texas, a colocation company is building a low-cost data center out of dozens of Mac minis. Underwriters Technologies' Mac mini colocation is housed in Austin's Data Foundry facility, a former bank vault where space is at a premium. Because the Mini measures only 6.5 inches square and is 2 inches high, Underwriters can cram a standard server rack with three times as many minis as full-size servers.

The colocation side of this interests me less than the plain fact that Minis are already being thought of as servers. Thomas Vander Wal has an interesting term, personal information cloud, to describe the bits of data such as phone numbers or to-do lists that seem to belong on cell phones, PDA's, stacks of index cards, and other such pocketable items.

My experience with setting up my Pair account to handle my mail, my website, my del.icio.us-like personal bookmark system, and a bunch of other stuff has led me to think that the best residence for the info cloud may ultimately be on a device such as the Mac Mini, plugged into a home DSL connection rather than colocated in a server room. Most of the needs listed above can be handled elegantly by open source software, and can probably be commoditized enough for Apple to slip them into OS X at some future date as an extension to iLife. The colocated server is pretty abstract, but combine a machine you can see in a place that you know with a .Mac-provided dynamic DNS, and the Mini becomes an ideal storage unit for your networked stuff ("stuff" here is used in the same context, and with the same implied meaning, as Iomega's hugely successful Zip drive ad campaign from, like, forever ago).

Apple has really opened the floodgates for computer contexts that treat the machine as an appliance instead of office equipment. It will be interesting to see all the use possibilities that arise from cheap, small, beautiful machines serving mail, music, movies, pictures or journals.

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