Security, distributed computing clash

by Andy Oram

Some good points and some one-sided judgments in the article 'New Economy' Is a Thing of the Past.

I can't understand the "bigger is better" claim. The World Trade Center was
way big. Centralized computer networks will provide the same temptations the
WTC did.

If new technology was just a kind of conspicuous consumption, it could be
dispensed with. But some
technologies can potentially make real-life processes much more efficient,
and these technologies (used properly) are needed more than ever. Still, I
believe their deployment will be held up because of a general unwillingness
to experiment. We're all pulling inward these days and being more cautious
about everything.

I'll just say a bit about peer-to-peer, since I've followed (and generated)
news about it. P2P may be one of those technologies that enable efficiency.
With the right load and the right division of labor, it might make computers
more efficient. Even more important, because it leaves files near the
creators and users of the files, it might make organizations more efficient.
If system administrators can be persuaded that they don't need to spend
hours every day updating a corporate intranet, they could become very
interested in P2P solutions.

But I'm also worried about the future of P2P and the whole distributed
ideal. The reason is that security now becomes so important. People are
going to reduce the number of servers they run, disconnect from the net
more, and check users very carefully using out-of-bound channels before the
users are allowed any access to services.