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June 2013, Volume 2, Number 6

Long tail theory points to a long life for on-premises data centers

As I've been thinking about cloud computing, public and private, "the long tail theory" keeps coming up. That term describes a business model that sells a few unique items rather than many identical items and has certain parallels to the modern data center. The idea is based on the Pareto distribution, which when graphed starts high on the left and tapers off into a distinct tail at the right. Long-tail proponents argue that the total sales within the tail in an industry can meet or exceed the sales potential of the newest, most popular items. To me, this sounds precisely like the future of the on-premises data center. It is fairly common to hear people heralding the death of the data center at the hands of public clouds. Software as a Service (SaaS) will eliminate whole chunks of our data center's workload outright. Platform as a Service (PaaS) will take our custom applications and run them in places where we don't have to worry about common, yet esoteric, things like tuning Java heap sizes. And Infrastructure as a Service (...

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