Network file systems or web services got you down? Sidestep them with a lightweight and high performance GDAL filesystem implemented on HTTP:
People sometimes talk about “RESTful” services on the web, and I’ll admit that there’s a lot to that that I don’t really understand. I’ll admit that the tiff format is not designed to have HTTP ‘links’ to each pixel — but I think the fact that by fetching a small set of header information, GDAL is then able to find out where the metadata is, and request only that data, saving (in this case) more than a gigabyte of network bandwidth… that’s pretty frickin’ cool.
Since all HTTP entities are represented in HTTP messages as sequences of bytes, the concept of a byte range is meaningful for any HTTP entity.
Make a small byte range request for TIFF metadata so you can map pixel and row (and maybe pyramid depth) to an entity byte range and then request just the right subset of the image.