These days, San Francisco’s skyline is not marked so much by the Transamerica Pyramid or Coit Tower as it is by cranes and the jagged outlines of half-finished buildings, symptoms of its struggle to meet the growing demand for housing and office space. The city by the Bay’s construction activity, however, only mirrors the frenzied buildout of the web’s infrastructure.
From Google to Facebook to Hulu to MySpace — web businesses are seeing unprecedented growth. In an effort to meet the demands of their customers, these companies have been forced to spend billions of dollars on servers, switches and a whole lot of other stuff that, taken together, forms an “infrastructure.” But such unprecedented growth is putting that infrastructure under extreme stress.
A parallel to this buildout took place in the mid-1990s, when the emergence of the Internet economy resulted in booming demand for bandwidth, connectivity and other such services. That led to an unprecedented spending cycle, with telecoms sinking billions of dollars into new technologies that helped spawn startups such as Ciena and Juniper Networks.
The new web infrastructure buildout presents a similar opportunity, both for entrepreneurs and their backers. As I noted not too long ago, we are in a period of flux: The platforms on which we have done business for over a decade are starting to provide diminishing returns; the smart money, meanwhile, is seeking new platform structures.
We’ve already started to see some cool new ideas. We plan to explore these ideas, and their manifestations — which range from new databases to new architectures for data centers — at our first GigaOM conference, Structure 08.
Structure 08 will gather the most innovative and influential industry leaders together to explore the latest Internet infrastructure buildout. It will sort through the emerging and disruptive computing technologies and inform businesses on how best to leverage them. And it will provide insight to investors and executives on the best implementations, ideas and startups out there today — and what to look for tomorrow.
The conference will take place on June 25th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. Among our scheduled keynote speakers are Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, and Greg Papadopoulos, CTO of Sun Microsystems. Other speakers include VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum and Salesforce.com founder Parker Harris.
I am working with Surj Patel and our stellar program committee on this conference. We are still in the process of finalizing the line-up, panels and speakers so in the meantime, your suggestions are more than welcome. Please drop me a line with speaker nominations and panel suggestions. If you would like to buy early-bird tickets, please visit the conference web site.
Hope to see you on June 25th.