The Big Switch and Bluelock

A few weeks ago I started reading The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr. Here’s an excerpt from the site that’s dead on:

A hundred years ago, companies stopped generating their own power with steam engines and dynamos and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities didn’t just change how businesses operate. It set off a chain reaction of economic and social transformations that brought the modern world into existence. Today, a similar revolution is under way. Hooked up to the Internet’s global computing grid, massive information-processing plants have begun pumping data and software code into our homes and businesses. This time, it’s computing that’s turning into a utility.

The Big SwitchThe shift is already remaking the computer industry, bringing new competitors like Google and to the fore and threatening stalwarts like Microsoft and Dell. But the effects will reach much further. Cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did. We can already see the early effects ? in the shift of control over media from institutions to individuals, in debates over the value of privacy, in the export of the jobs of knowledge workers, even in the growing concentration of wealth. As information utilities expand, the changes will only broaden, and their pace will only accelerate.

The Big Switch is already a reality. In January, Patronpath is moving our production infrastructure into Bluelock. It’s a new world (as the advertisement says on the sidebar).

It’s the perfect compliment to Software as a Service (Saas). The SaaS companies I’ve worked for have always tipped the scales on hardware and the teams of people to support them. Bluelock is the right solution for us since we can grow our business without worrying about our infrastructure or the massive resources that go with it. It’s outsourcing the worrying!

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is an emerging business model that allows you to purchase IT resources from an IaaS provider as a fixed cost on a monthly basis. With IaaS, instead of purchasing a pile of servers and a SAN, you can rent sixty processor cores, two terabytes of storage and sixty-four gigabytes of memory and pay for it on a monthly or quarterly basis. This environment is exactly what Nicholas is speaking to in his book. We’re purchasing bandwidth, disk space and processing power as if we were purchasing any other utility.

Most IaaS vendors run VMWare or a similar operating system than enables virtualization. This operating system approach is the key to putting a shim in between the hardware and your environment that allows it to scale, move around, be replicated, etc. It’s also what makes an IaaS provider different from a traditional service provider or hosting center.

We’re making The Big Switch by the end of January. Pick up a copy of the book and give Bluelock a call.

PS: This is NOT a sponsored post… just something I wanted to share because I’m very excited about the move!


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      Hi Mike,

      Bluelock is not paying for the post nor the sponsor spot. I provide some of my friends and colleagues with complimentary placement sometimes. Perhaps I should name it “Friends & Sponsors”.

      Bluelock is also here in Indiana – you’ll see that I try to help out with Indiana startups and technology companies.

      RE: Amazon:

      Amazon’s service are not Infrastructure as a Service, they are Web Services. The difference is that my environment isn’t pulling from ‘a cloud’ (Amazon’s term) where my environment is shared with hundreds or thousands of others.

      With Bluelock we will have dedicated servers, disk space, processors and bandwidth. We’re in a virtualized environment – so we can replicate our environment when needed.

      We have guaranteed SLA’s, Industry Standard Security Compliance, firewalls, intrusion detection, console access, 24/7 monitoring and support, vaulted backups, redundant power… you name it.

      Hope that helps! See Bluelock for additional information.

      • 3

        After your glowing review, maybe BlueLock should become a paying sponsor… 😉

        @Douglas: Helping Indiana

        I understand, I do the same in Atlanta, GA (see

        @Douglas: Amazon not an infrastructure service

        Albeit not at the same level of BlueLock apparently, but it EC2 not infrastructure?

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    @Mike There’s overlap between the offerings of Amazon EC2/S3/SimpleDB and BlueLock. But generally speaking, they’re a lot different solutions, and target different audiences.

    You couldn’t setup an Amazon cluster without a decent amount of technical knowledge, and would need to architect something to manage the different EC2 instances. You also run into a number of problems that would need to be handled in the application, like the fact that EC2 instances don’t have static IPs, that there’s no local storage on the EC2 instance, that S3 storage is much slower than SAN or local disk, and that SimpleDB doesn’t accept SQL queries or allow complex joins. EC2 and SimpleDB are still in beta right now (with the latter in private beta), so there’s no SLAs — not exactly something that you would want to hinge your production critical business on.

    BlueLock basically gives you a drop-in replacement for a rack of Windows and/or Linux servers without the headaches of managing them, or re-engineering your application so it can be hosted at Amazon. You also get to talk to support engineers on the phone.

    That said, Amazon is a lot less expensive to get started with, and BlueLock may not be cost effective if you’re only running a couple servers. It’s also pay-as-you-use, whereas BlueLock pricing is more like traditional data centers where you setup a plan to pay for a certain amount of cpu/disk/bandwidth/etc whether or not you use all of it each month.

    Disclaimers: I know a few people that work at BlueLock. But I’m actively using Amazon S3 in production, am a big fan of EC2 (in the right cases), and am eagerly awaiting my SimpleDB private beta invite.

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      Thanks for the comments Ade. I was going to ask Douglas to write a post comparing and contrasting BlueLock to Amazon’s web services but no need now as you already did!

      P.S. You Indianians really do stick together, doncha? 🙂

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        Ha! Yes we sure do, Mike!

        It’s one of those regions that’s small enough that there are very few degrees of separation between 2 companies or people. We’re trying hard to solidify these relationships and organize regionally as well.

        It’s the perfect region to startup a tech company since the cost of living and tax benefits are so good. Compared nationally, it’s 20% less cost on average. That’s the word we need to get out! The MidWest attitude towards hard work and great service is a big difference as well.

        Smaller Indiana is a new social network that has been started to better organize the businesses in the region.

        PS: I’m glad Ade stepped in. We’re moving to Bluelock so I don’t have to know all the differences 😉

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          @Douglass: It?s the perfect region to startup a tech company since the cost of living and tax benefits are so good. Compared nationally, it?s 20% less cost on average. That?s the word we need to get out! The MidWest attitude towards hard work and great service is a big difference as well.

          But then you have to live in Indiana godforbid…. (sorry, could’t resist ‘-)

          Anyway, sounds like you should go calling on the Chamber of Commerce as your next sponsor… 🙂

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    Thanks for the computing as a utility stance. It makes a lot of sense and immediately puts IaaS into perspective. I appreciate the post even with the special treatment for Bluelock :).
    Nice post Doug.
    Happy holidays to all.

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