OpenBSD version: Not relevant here...
Arch:            ?
NSFP:            Well...

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In the last proposition, we talked a lot about the centralization of the Internet. Centralization is the continuous aggregation of infrastructure and content around a couple of hypergiants. The classics(tm) here are certainly Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google with their large Infrastructure-, Platform- and Software-as-a-Serivce offerings.

As unimaginable as it may have been for teenage me that, one day, myspace would not longer be there… As hypothetical as it may have sounded in 2006’s Wallstreet that Lehman Brothers might be gone in a matter of days… Well, as unimaginable does the idea of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook (and for that matter a set of several more hyper and micro-giants like Digital Ocean or Hetzner) simply disappearing sound. Why would Amazon go bankcrupt?!

Nevertheless, we argue that:

Proposition 5

“We have to be prepared for hypergiants’ failing.”

Small ripples can cause a hypergiant to ultimately tumble, and our burning world is sending out the first signals. Infrastructure supported by the exploitation of labor in a globalized world will not sustain itself forever. Still, hypergiants and ‘all those fancy tech companies’ that make up their heavily paying customer base have a thing for exploiting laborers.

Let’s be honest here; One of the big innovations of Uber, DoorDash, and–in the way warehouse workers are treated–Amazon is having found a way around that concept called ‘worker rights’. You can be insanely more profitable if you do not have to bother with the costs of generations of societal development and social security. Nevertheless, this will not work forever.

Workers realize that those mechanisms put in place–organizing, unionizing, strikes and labor fights–are there for a reason, and actually pretty useful. And success begins to show.

With profit margins based on exploitation hopefully reducing towards a more fair and equitable sharing of benefits, accomplishments, and profits, the question arrises whether entities can actually keep up the cash flow for hypergiants. Ultimately, the promise of the cloud in terms of spot-pricing and pay-what-you-use is shifting the risk of having a lot of unused infrastructure from the client to the giant. The question will be whether hypergiants can scale down their fixed costs quickly enough, if customers have to leave or reduce their spending significantly.

A similar effect can be observed around energy. For central Europe, all it took for energy prices surging was a pandemic followed by a war close enough to our borders so we could no longer close our eyes. Energy costs just know one direction, which is up. Consumers can easily see a 25% increase of prices. Industry, including datacenters, is usually handled quiet favorably in these circumstances. Still, scepticism about big datacenters of hypergiants grows, with a single data center easily consuming the equivalent electricity of 50,000 homes. And, keep in mind, energy prices can only multiply so much before your (usually already relatively thin; It’s the scale that brings the money) profit margin crumbles. By handing through the cost increase, you may very well just trigger customers leaving, increasing the issues at hand.

In addition to these two points, there is also the fact that our world is (slowly) falling apart. We find ourselves hit by supplychain issues, and governments around the globe blow the horn of (misunderstood, buy we will get to that later) sovereignty to isolate themselves and their markets. Thing is, globaly open markets with as little oversight and control as possible (and there is a whole blog series to be written on the interaction of governance, control, markets, and corporations; But let’s just keep this point without a value judgement for now.) make life a lot easier for global corporations. If that is taken away… well,… things will get more difficult.

But, let’s keep politics out of this argument. Regardless of whether you agree with the developments of the world, and whatever your perspective is, ultimately, for the Internet, the question of why hypergiants fail, and whether it is a good thing, is not essential. The important question is how we handle them disappearing, possibly suddenly, when the majority of websites contains fonts hosted by, e.g., [Google][gfonts, or straight-out runs on EC2. If a hypergiant fails, we will–all of a sudden–have a lot of legacy and broken infrastructure. And historically, legacy infrastructure is not something we are particular good at dealing with.