"Don't expect the data center build out announcements to slow soon," writes Lew Moorman from Rackspace on the racklabs blog. "The era of utility computing is just beginning." As a thought exercise, Lew calculates the potential impact of Microsoft including an automated online backup tool in Windows. "Assume Microsoft builds it into the OS and allows you to push it to their cloud every night," he wrties. "Assume it is automatic for all Windows customers. This is a needed service, a great one for the cloud, and a great way for MS and others to get into thin computing. Well, you just used 2.5 million square feet on basic PC backup alone."
Microsoft hasn't yet developed such a service, although its new Live SkyDrive offers up to 500 MB of free online storage. Google recently announced a program that allows users to purchase up to 6 GB of online storage for use with GMail and Picasa albums. Meanwhile, Amazon S3 continues to grow, providing the backend for a number of online backup and photo storage start-ups. As these strategies evolve, expect Microsoft, Amazon and Google to continue building new data center space.