It appears that Amazon has opened the gates to their Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2). It’s essentially a virtualization farm, renting out CPU time by the hour like one of those motels. It turns server resources into a commodity like water or electricity. No more idle servers, it scales on demand, and you only ever pay for what you use.
There are a few quirks to it and the main one is that each new virtual server you spawn gets its address assigned from a DHCP server. This dynamically assigned address makes managing a cluster of virtual servers slightly trickier than a typical “static” cluster. However, finding a solution the challenge is certainly worth it.
I’m already having visions of combining the power of EC2 with a flexible messaging system to distribute heavy processing requirements to a dynamically scalable system.
Yes I do dream about such things.