Distributed computing efforts that use consumer and business PCs is nothing new, and have included projects that corral thousands of computers to search for extraterrestrial radio signals (SETI@home) and ones that use a much smaller number of PCs to crack 60-year-old German Enigma ciphers. But the idea of assembling a network of machines, then charging clients to use it, is new.
I wonder if this would be structured in such a way that it would make sense to buy banks of PCs for the sole purpose of renting out cycles. I expect businesses -- from small companies to multi-billion-dollar multi-nationals -- would be able to pull in a significant amount of money off of this, to offset the cost of their IT projects.
I wonder if something like this could significantly reduce the need for Internet servers -- instead of having to run a physical server, you could just lease space on the cloud of unused cycles on all the machines connected to the Internet, from cell phones to supercomputers.
Or, of course, it could all come to nothing. There's always that possibility with an invention that sounds revolutionary.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.