SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Plutora Blog, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal

@ThingsExpo: Article

Plumbing and the Internet of Things

It's Been a Long Odyssey For Us to Get Where We Are. Now What?

A couple of days ago, I noted the fundamental enterprise IT change driven over the past generation by user impatience - nobody likes waiting in line.

We can point to Moore's Law, Metcalf's Law, and a general business trend toward disintermediation and decentralization as well, taking note of the millions of hard-working people all over the world who've been making things faster, better, cheaper, and more effective for several decades.

All of this effort has led to the big change in IT during my career-the invention of plumbing.

Going to the Well
The bad, old way of MIS meant you went to the well to get your water. You visited the wellmaster, er, MIS manager, and hoped your ration, er, report, was ready. Sometimes MIS would bring the water to you, but only if you didn't bug them for it very much.

The minicomputers came, and with them, plumbing. Information flowed in two directions, and more or less when users wanted it. It had moved from the well into several silos, and you needed a different terminal to get at the stuff in each separate silo.

So soon enough, user impatience re-appeared. They wanted several types of information, and they wanted it to be available on their desks, in one place, all the time. In came PCs, approved or not, and forced IS to get better plumbing, usually a miraculous local network called Ethernet.

What Did They Ever Do For Us?
But users are wont to grumble and complain, and as with Monty Python's Biblical revolutionaries asking what the Romans had ever done for them, modern-day computer users didn't appreciate all the plumbing that IS had so graciously provided.

Once the world at large discovered the Internet, then the Worldwide Web, the old ways were doomed. There's been a constant back-and-forth battle for control between IT and users since that time, but modern-day information plumbing-much of it wireless-continues to be this nihilistic force that trumps the most rigorous IT efforts to control the flow.

With the great plumbing afforded by the Internet and Web came the battle to destroy those silos that had replaced the original well. This battle will no doubt continue for many more decades, as each new type of information flow creates new silos.

Constant Battle
Data types are data types, archives are archives, and an enterprise's information-one of its most valuable assets-just can't be tossed around willy nilly, like the records, books, newspapers, magazines, and laundry in my old college dorm room. It must be organized somehow.

Yet user demands for access to any information, anytime, anywhere, on any device are an inexorable force. The nearly 20-year odyssey of today's @CloudExpo @ThingsExpo and everything that goes with the event started with application service providers and web services.

The idea of deconstructing (or decoupling) what applications do from their silos was a profound, radical thought. It was also easier said than done.

Once developers and users started to think of software as a service rather than a product, though, they also started to think about how to measure it. An application is bought in a package or a download; a service is something that comes streaming in as you need it.

Following that thought, why not, then, combine specific services with one another to create a new service? Set theory and a facility for high-level mathematical proofs started to influence the thinking of how best to develop and deliver services.

SOA, Then Cloud
Web services extended into Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and a further decoupling at the hardware level (promulgated by software) brought us into the modern age of cloud computing.

The Internet of Things and Big Data are now possible with cloud computing, now that compute resources can appear infinite and highly flexible.

I wrote a piece once about how this sort of deconstruction was similar to revolutions in 20th century music, art, literature, and philosophy. A friend of mine said at least six people in the world would be interested in my piece-I can now say that, in fact, almost 5,000 people have read it over a time period of only five years. Here it is if you need some sleep.

Whither Plumbing?
Modern-day distributed computing can also be said to be simply a result of a human desire to improve things. It's commonly accepted wisdom that we shouldn't try to re-invent the wheel, but that's exactly what people do.

The ironic consequence of all this is now people have questions about the plumbing. Can the Internet withstand the onslaught of the coming zettabytes? What protocols, specifications, and techniques will be required to keep local information flows as local as possible, so as not to burden the bigger pipes?

We all know that the late Sen. Ted Stevens was right. The Internet is a series of tubes (or pipes), if structured with a little more subtlety and complexity than he articulated.

Now that the plumbing has addressed user impatience and improved user experiences for decades, will it become the bottleneck itself? And will a great concentrations of information among a small number of cloud services providers some day bring us back to having to depend on the well and its keepers for our cyber-survival?

Contact Me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
More and more file-based and machine generated data is being created every day causing exponential data and content growth, and creating a management nightmare for IT managers. What data centers really need to cope with this growth is a purpose-built tiered archive appliance that enables users to establish a single storage target for all of their applications - an appliance that will intelligently place and move data to and between storage tiers based on user-defined policies. In her session a...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects - scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e....
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
"Application monitoring and intelligence can smooth the path in a DevOps environment. In a DevOps environment you see constant change. If you are trying to monitor things in a constantly changing environment, you're going to spend a lot of your job fixing your monitoring," explained Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use c...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.