Panlibus Blog

What ‘is’ Web-Scale?

Cloud%003F It will have been difficult to miss OCLC’s recent Cloud Computing announcement.  If you have, the headline is that they say they are building an architecture capable of handling all the transactions of all libraries, meaning that they can add circulation, acquisitions, license management and several other aspects of library management to their WorldCat shared discovery capability.

As you can imagine, all this built upon racks of computers hosted at OCLC’s data centre combining their power to deliver a service to many users at the same time.  A well proven technology as used by Google, Sun, Amazon, Salesforce.com, and even here at Talis where the Talis Platform underpins our Engage, Aspire, and Prism products. The rest of the computing world describes this as Software as a Service (SaaS) or Cloud Computing.

For some reason OCLC are determined to come up with their own term – Web-Scale.  OCLC’s Andrew Pace in his recently published Talking with Talis podcast [highly recommended if you want an insight in to this initiative] tries to explain why the library world needs such a term.  The inaugural post on the OCLC Engineering blog, by Mike Teets also goes in to much depth as to what Web-Scale is.

Having read and listen to all this I must admit I’m still unconvinced.  It still sounds like engineering has be brought in, to support the marketing folks’ desire to be different, with technical description.  There are enough confusing terms hijacked by marketeers in the computing and Internet worlds. So I’m sure OCLC will forgive me if I continue to describe their approach as a cloud based software as a service – Cloud Computing.

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