I often use the auto industry and Henry Ford's invention of mass production as a proxy for what is happening in IT. His shift to the assembly line vastly reduced the price of individual cars, but crucially, made it vastly more expensive to be a manufacturer. Car companies unable to achieve the economies of scale that the mass manufacturers achieved were inexorably forced out of business.
Will the same dynamic occur in cloud computing? Will "table stakes" be the ability to finance and operate a 100,000 square foot data center? Will those with lower requirements be forced to abjure data center ownership and rely on larger providers with their better economics?
One can expect we are not anywhere near the end of the data center design evolution. Commodity scale industries are ruthless in seeking cost advantage, and woe to the competitor who cannot finance cost improvements.
Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing, and related issues. He is also the author of "Virtualization for Dummies," the best-selling book on virtualization to date.