"Opera today (well, last week. I've been a little slow getting this post out) unveiled Opera Unite, a new technology that shakes up the old client-server computing model of the Web. Opera Unite turns any computer into both a client and a server, allowing it to interact with and serve content to other computers directly across the Web, without the need for third-party servers.
Opera Unite makes serving data as simple and easy as browsing the Web. For consumers, Opera Unite services give greater control of private data and make it easy to share data with any device equipped with a modern Web browser.
For Web developers, Opera Unite services are based on the same open Web standards as Web sites today. This dramatically simplifies the complexity of authoring cutting-edge Web services. With Opera Unite, creating a full Web service is now as easy as coding a Web page." Full press release here.
Very interesting concept which I imagine Google will copy quickly, roll into Google Wave and Chrome…and leave in beta for 5 years. But they wouldn't be alone….
Nokia also has been working on making your phone into a server. I spent a lot of time last year looking into this space. It has some interesting implications on network usage and ease of use for photo sharing, etc… another problem that gets solved by having a local server is separation of data and application.
One of the problems with web apps is that the data and the application are intertwined. Separability of data and application was very clear in the desktop world- you could tote your word files with you anywhere… but with cloud apps, this is becoming much more difficult. (For example, have you tried to export your gmail messages?) As they say, if you can't take data with you, it's not yours… One of the benefits of having a "server" on your phone or laptop is that any pictures you take can still be accessed on Facebook, but you can host those on your own "server". (And we all know Facebook is trying to build their own private version of the internet. If you believe things like that.)
The current problem with having a local server on your machine (any machine) is that you need to be a geek to make it work. Opera is moving this towards the masses, but it's still a Yahoo Pipes mass appeal. Google needs to make this dead easy to use – maybe that's part of what their doing with Wave…