This is an excerpt from my article Building Super Scalable Systems: Blade Runner Meets Autonomic Computing in the Ambient Cloud.
As I was writing an article on the architecture of the Storm Botnet, I couldn't help but notice the deep similarity of how Storm works and changes we're seeing in the evolution of political systems. In particular, the rise of the virtual-state. As crazy as this may sound, I think this is also the direction applications will need follow to survive in a complex world of billions of compute devices.
You may have already heard of virtual corporations. Virtual corporations are companies with limited office space, a distributed workforce, and production facilities located wherever it is profitable to locate them. The idea is to stay lean and compete using the rapid development and introduction of new products into high value-added markets. If you spot a market opportunity with a small time window, building your own factories and hiring and engineering team simply isn't an option. Building factories is a bit old fashioned and is left to the select few. These days you get an idea for a product and contract out everything else you possibly can. It doesn't really matter where you are located or where any of your partners are located. If part of your product requires a specialized microprocessor, for example, you'll contract out the R&D and the design. The manufacture will be contracted out to a virtual fab, then the chip will be sent to a contract manufacturing service for integration. Look ma, no hands.
Futurists say land doesn't matter anymore. Nations don't matter anymore. Entire relationships are abstractly represented by flows of money, contracts, information, and products between all these different agents. Interestingly enough, what technology is the absolute master of managing flows? Applications! But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.