Saturday, June 28, 2008

Look what I've found hiding in the shadows ...

For over ten years I've been going on and on and on about commoditisation as a force both in IT and manufacturing. From utility computing to 3D printing with a healthy dose of open source, network effects and the interaction of digital / physical along the way.

Many times it has felt like a lonely journey and I have become very used to people mocking these ideas. Of course I've seen the transition from mocking to accepted wisdom as heavyweights get involved in these subjects. When Carr published his first HBR article and Sterling published his book, it was a joyous moment for me as I knew my likelihood of being mad was decreasing.

A lot of the poor souls at Fotango were continuously exposed to my mutterings and Tom Insam (now at Dopplr) once said that "I had the annoying habit of being right about the future". Well, the truth is I don't predict the future. All I ever do is take old ideas and repeat them in a modern context.

I happen to agree with Tim O'Reilly that the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. However, I would also extend his idea to the future is already here, we've just forgotten where we've put it. There is an incredible sense of pleasure in discovering that little bit of the future which has been brushed underneath the carpet or left cowering in some dusty corner of a library.

On that note, it is good to see that the old ideas (pre 1980's) on commoditisation of IT are so mainstream now. Also I'm glad that finally we have a heavyweight, Greg Papadopoulos, advocate "a free market [in the cloud] in which all interfaces and formats are based on open standards". This will take more than open standards, as open APIs and data formats won't provide portability (including interoperability) alone, however the discussion about competitive markets between providers is excellent. This is what should be expected to happen from the old ideas of second sourcing (pre 1970's).

I did note with interest that Gartner is reported to have said that :-

“By 2012, software as a service (SaaS) will surpass open source as the IT cost-cutting method of choice.”

You really shouldn't think of it as SaaS vs Open Source. The really powerful combination is SaaS and Open Source. SaaS will become huge once it is based upon open source and competitive markets form.

As for me, well everyone who knows me also knows that I've become somewhat tired of web 2.0, enterprise 2.0 and the "cloud". I still blog and talk about these subjects, but I'm slowly moving on to something new - books. In other words I'm playing with ordinary objects that do extraordinary things.