The New York Times writes:
It has been almost two decades since Sun Microsystems pioneered the slogan “the network is the computer.” Today, after many false starts, that idea is a reality.
Along with relentless technical advances, one force behind this change has been the billions of dollars spent by telecom companies on fiber-optic lines before the end of the tech boom. That splurge was a factor in driving many of those companies into bankruptcy, but also helped reduce the cost of transmitting data.
For decades increases in the speeds of computer networks trailed the exponentially accelerating speed of microprocessor chips. Now the balance between the power of computer processing and networking has fundamentally reversed, and the rapid rise of transmission speeds is beginning to have a revolutionary impact on how computers are used and what they can do.
“That box of things that used to be contained inside of your PC now gets spread out literally on a global basis,” said Mike Volpi, a senior vice president at Cisco Systems, the largest networking company in the world. The changes are taking place both at the highest end of the supercomputing world and just as swiftly in the consumer World Wide Web.
“Can you blow up the computer machine room and spread it over the surface of the planet?” Mr. Smarr said. “This is really happening.”