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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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August 23, 2007 7:38 AM

Servers Go Home; The Bandwidth Beast Grows Hungrier

Saw an article go up on ars technica reporting on details that have been leaked about the first products hitting the market equipped with Windows Home Server software.

While not news as the Windows Home Server initiative was announced some time ago and these leaked details aren't an official release, I still wanted to take a moment to consider what this product is and could mean in the marketplace.

Windows Home Server is software developed by Microsoft intended for the consumer market. When it launches you won't necessarily be buying just the software, but instead you'll purchase a product like the MediaSmart Home Server from HP alluded to in the ars technica article.

To take a step much further back, a server is essentially a computer, often with much more storage, accessible over the network dedicated to one or a handful of specific applications or tasks. Any time you're accessing a web page or watching a video on YouTube, you're pulling information from a server somewhere out in the cloud of the Internet.

In this case, what they're doing is moving the server into your home. On this personal server, consumers will be able to load all of their movies, music, photos, and other media in order to make it instantly accessible in their house and around the world.

I see two notable things in all this:

1 - With this product, Microsoft has demonstrated its belief that at least some sub-segment of Internet power users are maxing out their media storage at home and that it's no longer enough for them to simply store, they want ready access to that content as well. (Whether the market's mature enough for any sort of mass adoption of this product, is very much up in the air, though.)

2 - For the consumers that do adopt this new class of products, they're likely going to start putting a lot more pressure on the upload capacity of their broadband networks. Whenever they want to pull content from these at-home servers when they're not at home, the server will have to upload that information in order for the user to download it elsewhere.

Of course, the upward pressure content is placing on consumer uploading is not new; Slingbox and BitTorrent are two popular examples of applications that rely heavily on upload capacity to deliver content.

But it seems likely that some day we will all have at least one at-home server, brimming with media, and especially video, of all sorts. And as we step closer to that day, the demands placed on broadband networks will only continue to increase.


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