It seems that every day turns up some quirky new development in the rapidly developing utility grid market: sometimes even two.
Today, Sun announced "Project Blackbox", a shipping container filled with up to 240 rack-mounted Opterons (or Sparcs) and 1.4 Petabytes of storage. The compute-hungry user leases or buys the box, plugs in a couple of fire hoses for cooling and a 500 kilowatt power cord, and it's up and running in five minutes. All this apparently designed by Danny Hillis, of all people. (Wasn't Google supposed to be doing this?)
This development emphasizes how hard it is to distinguish "insourcing" and "outsourcing." I need more computing power: do I buy new servers, lease a Blackbox from Sun, or rent time on Amazon EC2? All three approaches can provide the same "power," but differ greatly in setup time, costs, quality of service, and flexibility.
And in a case of art imitating life (?), the world's largest grid facility operator, Google, announced that it will cover the roofs of its Mountain View offices with solar cells, a move that will provide 30% of the electricity used in those offices--and might sometimes result in Google selling power to that other grid, the old-fashioned electric one.