The best business idea I ever had was grand in scope, beautiful if executed properly, and could have revolutionized the IT industry. I had it about two years ago and it was one of those eureka-in-the-shower moments that I sometimes have. It was basically what Robert X. Cringely calls hive computing.
My idea was to use desktop computers for serving web pages. Uh huh, snooze. In other words, I wanted to create some software (or cause some software to be created, more likely) that would allow an average desktop computer to handle a Web request and serve it back using its spare computing cycles in between real work. This distributed network could combine to handle all the requests for a company’s Web site, its intranet, or its extranet. In other words, getting rid of the expensive servers—the so-called “big iron.” Most Fortune 500 companies have thousands and thousands of desktop computers and several hundred servers of various persuasions. A lot of those desktop computers are spread across the nation and the world. Through geoserving, requests could also be handled by the most appropriate—read: nearest in proximity—computers.
It was a revolutionary idea. It still is. The problem that caused me to abandon it—aside from some rather vehement naysayers—was the sheer enormity of the idea. Serving up static HTML pages would be a walk in the park; dynamic ones pose a little bit more of a problem. There’s so many different app servers that would have to be made to be distributed and the whole communication issue was a tough nut, as well. Moreover, there’s security issues, routing problems, and customer acceptance.
If anyone reading this wants to tackle the problem, let me know and I’ll sign off whatever rights I may possess by law. I’ve moved on, but it’s still an intriguing idea and the grid computing industry has improved considerably. I’ll also happily share my notes that I prepared in a frenzy of brainstorming.