Web Infrastructure

Cobalt ServersI take the web’s infrastructure for granted.  I open up Safari or Firefox and I access the web.  I turn on Xbox 360 and connect to Xbox Live to play friends across the world, buy virtual goods, and download trailers.  My iPhone can surf most sites on the web in native format, a favorite is Grub On the Go.  This blog is hosted at MediaTemple and people can reach this site 95% of the time (uptime could be better).  The infrastructure of the Internet with all of it’s plumbing is extremely intricate and changes quite often, but the one thing remains the same:  we need to access the web one way or another.

Traditionally, the gateway to the web has been Darpa, CompuServe, Prodigy, America Online/AOL, RED, Mindspring, Optimum Cable, RCN, Windstream, and various other access providers.  Some of the folks on this list are defunct but they all provided a way for us to access the richness of the web.  As a consumer, I didn’t care what they did behind the scenes to get me online; all I cared about was the speed I access the Internet at.  I want my webpages to load quickly, my tweets to go from pointA to point b, xbox live to load, and my connection to be reliable.

GigaOM wrote an article tonight entitled, As Broadband Growth Slows, Expect Speed Bursts.  A little excerpt from the article:

The latest company to follow this path is Windstream, a Little Rock, Ark.-based RLEC. The company said recently that it’s offering 12 Mbps ADSL2 service in some parts of its 16-state network. More importantly, it has increased its lowest-speed tier to 3 Megabits per second. Our good friends at DSLReports add that Windstream is offering the 12Mbps/1Mbps tier for $19.99 for the first six months, and $45 per month after that.

For sake of full disclosure, Windstream is a client of The Media Kitchen, the agency in which I work for and one of the digital media accounts I directly oversee.  I didn’t put them into this blog posting because they are a client, but because 12Mbps ADSL2 service is FAST and if they can roll this out, imagine what the larger providers can do.

Speed is a byproduct of a bigger pipe to and from my computer (or access device).  As consumers, we’re demanding bigger pipes because we’re not just reading content online, but we’re also creating content.  As we’re creating and consuming content, the quality of the content has gotten much greater and watching your favorite television show now takes more speed in order to watch it in high quality.

Besides access infrastructure, cloud computing and storage has been a hot topic for the past year and a half.    Amazon Web Services and Google are pioneering this space, but networks like AppNexus and 10Gen are emerging as unique players within a huge and potentially extremely lucrative market.

Web infrastructure is certainly interesting and it’s only just begun.