The Fifth Utility is Computing Power

There is a new computing model emerging in the mainstream. It’s called Utility Computing. The concept isn’t new, and neither is the name. Utility computing has been recognized by a number of other names, as well, such as Application Hosting, Software-as-a-Service, OnDemand Computing, and Anytime, Anywhere Computing. But it all comes down to essentially the same thing: paying for what you use, and only for what you use.

Utility Computing is a service model in which a service provider makes computing resources and infrastructure management available to the customer as it is needed. These services are typically offered for monthly service fees, fees which may fluctuate with increased or decreased use of the computing resources offered. The utility model is designed to maximize the efficiency of the resources available, and minimize the associated cost of provisioning and managing those resources. Whether delivered by a 3rd party or by the IT department internal to the organization, the concept and the approach are the same.

The term “utility” is analagous to other types of infrastructure services, such as electrical power or water service, where fluctuating customer needs exist and the customer pays only for resources used. With available high-speed Internet in almost every region, and with the increasing complexity of operating system and application software, the utility computing model becomes even more important to the market.

The four major utility services are electrical power, water, natural gas, and telephone service (rapidly turning into simply “broadband”, as many now see IP service as the new dialtone). The fifth utility is computing power. Plug in and it’s there, and you pay for what you use. What could be simpler?