What is Web-Scale?
The recent OCLC press release about Worldcat Local "Quick Start" and network management environment used the term "Web-Scale" 12 times (Press Release). Many assumptions can be made about what this means, but let me outline what this means to us in deploying technology. Our use of the term within OCLC describes both a technical architecture and the impact the services have within the community they serve. The following is a brief outline focused on the technology aspects. Over the next several weeks I will provide a detailed post on each of these topics.
What is Web Scale? A system which is Highly Available, Reliable, Transparent, High Performance, Scalable, Accessible, Secure, Usable, and Inexpensive
There are alternate phrases, some of which are true alternatives and some of which have different meanings. These include: "utility computing", "web-scale computing", "on-demand infrastructure", "cloud computing", "Software as a Service (SaaS)" and "Platform as a Service (PaaS)".
Available and Reliable: 99.9 or 99.99% Availability (24x7x365, not against an
Always On: No down time, planned or otherwise. The site must always be
Transparent: Transaction level redirection without user knowledge. Any service within the infrastructure should fail over quietly and reliably to an alternate service with little to no disruption to the user. There should be no degradation when services go down
High Performance: Fast response time. Sub-second response time on every transaction type at the internal service level. We should be clearly faster than anything implemented locally. Network latency should be the only performance concern.
Scalable: Three-dimensional scaling. The environment must allow us to add users with decreasing costs per user, add servers with decreasing cost per server, and add services with decreasing costs per service.
Accessible: Allow access to all that the web has to offer. It must allow external services to integrate in many different ways convenient to them, and must integrate to external services in commonly used standard ways. It must integrate into the web where the current and new users spend time.
Must provide identity management, service protection, data protection while insuring personal as well as institutional privacy.
Usable: The system must be usable by a massively diverse community. For us this means professionals as well as general internet users; publics, academics and special libraries; novice system users as well as experienced. Decisions concerning UI design, workflow and usability must be based on sound evidence not opinions.
Inexpensive: Must do ALL of the above at a lower price than the local environment can do SOME of the things above. The value proposition must be simple and clear.
Detail about these will come in later posts. Feel free to comment! I welcome your feedback.
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