Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, gave a really fun talk: E-Commerce at Interplanetary Scale.
It is interesting to see the current gap between the average joes view of distributed computing, and what amazon.com needs for the future.
Modelling the system like life to gain benefits from evolution sounds smart and complicated. Werner is spot on when he notes how a living organism is continously regenerating. Getting rid of cells here, and replacing them with cells from there.
I definitely feel that we need to do that even on the small scale. I shudder at the thought of a single machine running an application these days. Haven’t we all felt how apps get cruddier over time (and we all know about rebooting Windows)?
The “cluster” that we built for TheServerSide’s nicest feature was the structure that we had around it for giving it a nice clean. We could easily bring up and down nodes without users knowing what was going on behind the scenes. The interface of http:// allows for many abstractions. Our caching framework (on Tangosol Coherence) made the unit of life seperate from a running server process.
If we take it to the next level, the computer unit that has been up for longest is probably the web itself. The latest Wired talks about how each URL is like a neuron, and how the links are the connections between. In fact, the web is so large these days that it is getting close to the complexity of the brain itself.
How long until we dump our memories into this global machine? Wait. We do right now (google, email, flickr, podcasts, …).
It is quite staggering to look at how fast it is growing too. Are we building the Terminator? :)