New Desktop Supercomputer Foreshadows the End of the Web Hosting Industry

May 10, 2005
May 10, 2005 - (HOSTSEARCH.COM) - A new computer produced by Orion Multisystems may spell the end of the web hosting industry. While the DC-96 computer is targeted towards high-end researchers with massive computational needs the $100,000 machine, about the size of small refrigerator, while cutting-edge by today’s standards won’t be able to outperform a small refrigerator by the end of the century should Moore’s Law continue to hold true.

In other words, sooner or later, web hosting providers will not be able to compete with desktop PCs. All but the most absolutely high-end web sites will be self-hosted and web hosting service providers will be absorbed by Internet service providers or simply go out of business.
The DC-96 contains a "cluster" of 96 interconnected low-voltage microprocessors, each of which is capable of running at 1.2 Gigahertz, or 1.2 billion cycles per second.

Together, these processors give the machine a peak computing power of 230 gigaflops, or the ability to carry out 230 billion complex mathematical operations every second. The machine also comes with a massive 192 gigabytes of memory.

Jim Lux, senior member of the engineering staff at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said of the new computer, “Orion is making clusters a convenient, low maintenance product with the user experience of an integrated device, like a PC. The new 96-node deskside system provides an order of magnitude higher performance than the desktop, still without requiring extensive support staff and infrastructure.”

“Just as high-performance clusters of smaller servers have joined monolithic mainframes, server clusters are beginning to gain client-side analogues,” said Stacey Quandt, senior business analyst and open source practice leader, Robert Francis Group. “Such systems, if configured and deployed effectively, can deliver new computing options and enable more and new business benefits at many enterprises.”

While many an IT staffer will be quick to point out that many companies that need a website don’t have the technical know-how to handle security or maintenance of a web server hardware is not the only technology that is advancing. Server automation software is growing increasingly sophisticated and easy to use at the same time. And in regards to security, having an IT staff dedicated to security is largely a psychological sugar-pill designed to make companies and their customers feel secure even if they are genuinely at risk. Case in point, the U.S. government as reported by the NY Times, recently tracked down a Swedish 16 year old who engineered break-ins at Cisco and NASA after more than a year of tracking the youth. If a 16 year old kid, no matter how clever, can break in to the likes of Cisco and NASA then what company can truly claim to be secure against organized criminals? In other words, if it’s not truly genuine protection, a firewall, network monitoring software, and spam filtering can be run by software a lot more cheaply than by an expensive IT staff.

The plummeting price of web hosting is the first sign this industry is bound to change. There are too many offers of free web hosting for SMBs to indicate a healthy business model.

Web hosting providers had better be ready to diversify into such areas as VoIP, Wi-Fi, call-center outsourcing, and software development if they hope to continue in this industry and compete with the big players who own the backbone of the internet like MCI or who have the money (Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft) to freeze out smaller hosts.

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