The containers -- the datacenter equivalents of flash drives -- would be dispersed strategically about the globe in an effort to move capacity to the edge, closer to customers, thereby diminishing dependency on and costs associated with CDNs (content distribution networks, he said.
"We're not close enough to customers, so we have to work with content distribution networks as well," Hamilton said.
Web 2.0 enterprises also need to adopt a radically different approach to hardware maintenance in a world of small, cheap, mobile datacenters, he said.
Noting that 40 percent of the cost of datacenter operations goes toward staff, Hamilton said that companies need to eliminate headcount in datacenters as much as possible, by switching to a "detect/reboot/replace" approach to server failure, rather than costly maintenance and servicing of malfunctioning hardware. Such an approach could improve servers-per-administrator ratios from 100-to-1 to upwards of 1,000-to-1, Hamilton said.
"Spending 20 percent of your datacenter budget on service? Well, then, don't service it," Hamilton added. "It seems ironic to build systems that run well on unreliable components and then house those unreliable components in a super-reliable datacenter."
The payoffs of such an approach go beyond mere cost savings. Forgoing the solitary central facility in favor of a distributed-microcenter approach will also increase reliability and be more flexible in the face of large, oftentimes seasonal fluctuations of customer loads, or regional disputes like war or national disaster, he said.
Not that the distributed model doesn't come with risks and challenges. A shift to smaller, trailer based data centers has implications in the software programming model. Also, savings on datacenter administrators will likely be diverted to pay for more application developers.
Judging from the looks of the app-dev crowd that makes up the audience of Web 2.0 Expo, however, that would be just fine.