Welcome!

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

@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
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
Data-as-a-Service is the complete package for the transformation of raw data into meaningful data assets and the delivery of those data assets. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lakshmi Randall, an industry expert, analyst and strategist, will address: What is DaaS (Data-as-a-Service)? Challenges addressed by DaaS Vendors that are enabling DaaS Architecture options for DaaS
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
DevOps is not just last year’s buzzword. Companies with DevOps practices are 2.5x more likely to exceed profitability, market share, and productivity goals. But how do you enable high performance? What can you do right now to start? Find out from DevOps experts including Gene Kim, co-author of "The Phoenix Project," and the Dynatrace Center of Excellence.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Column Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1998, Column Technologies is a global technology solutions provider with over 400 employees, headquartered in the United States with offices in Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. Column Technologies provides “Best of Breed” technology solutions that automate the key DevOps principal...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
As someone who has been dedicated to automation and Application Release Automation (ARA) technology for almost six years now, one of the most common questions I get asked regards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Specifically, people want to know whether release automation is still needed when a PaaS is in place, and why. Isn't that what a PaaS provides? A solution to the deployment and runtime challenges of an application? Why would anyone using a PaaS then need an automation engine with workflow ...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...