In a faltering economy, someone is always smiling. Thanks to Kevin for spotting this.
A node between the physical and digital.
The rants and raves of Simon Wardley.
Industry and technology mapper, business strategist, destroyer of undeserved value.
"I like ducks, they're fowl but not through choice"
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Back in May last year, I had my usual election grumble about the lack of secrecy over whom we vote for. Technically it's a secret as long as two lists of numbers are kept apart, however if necessary your voting history can be recovered.
What shocked me at the time was to discover that plans were afoot to have a new mechanism of ID checking, something which had been reported earlier by the Times. I was left with the clearest hint that this would mean our voluntary ID cards.
Of course, if the contractors involved in the ID cards fiasco keep on losing other peoples data then I might well find myself turning up to the booth to discover I've already voted. At least they will be able to tell me whom I voted for.
Now continuing on that point, I recently heard of a political reform idea which brings idiocy to a whole new level. The idea is that "companies should have the right to vote". There is quite enough gerrymandering going on via lobbyists without extending the right to vote to organisations.
An organisation only exists at the intersection between a mass of activities and people. Without people and activities, organisations don't exist. Since people already vote, there is no reason on earth why random collections of people should be given extra votes. It's bonkers.
Unfortunately so are ID cards, but that hasn't seemed to stop them yet.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Something most foul ...
I don't appreciate being told what to do or being nannied over my excess weight, however I do appreciate being given clear information in order to make sensible choices.
I mention this because the Tory party has not only been berating people for carrying a few extra pounds, but has also joined forces with the Food and Advertising Industry in order to remove the traffic light system for food labelling. This simple system provides consumers with easy to read information about a food product and whether it contains high, medium or low levels of fat, saturates, sugars and salt.
Instead the industry favours a system of unreadable and potentially confusing percentages. This is no surprise as it's the governments job to make sure we get clear information and the role of advertisers to convince us to buy stuff. By hook or by crook or as I like to call it, the lynx effect - we suggest you'll attract beautiful women, we deliver a dubious whiff.
Now a "dubious whiff" is by pure coincidence an apt description of these recent Tory policies, however when it comes to helping the elderly rich in favour of the poor, well that's downright rancid.
The obvious dangers of the cloud ...
We've had numerous instances of downtime, changes in TOCs and services disappearing in the cloud computing world. To this list of shenanigans can now be added Nings unilateral closing of WidgetLaboratory.
I'm not going to go on a rant about the need for open sourced standards to protect the interest of businesses built upon such services, because both James Urquhart and those smart guys at Reasonably Smart have already said what needs to be said.
It seems that Reasonably Smart are also planning to raise further investment. If you're looking at getting into the cloud computing space, I'd strongly recommend you talk to them. To be open in my dealings, I know James Duncan very well but I have no vested interest in the company; I just happen to strongly agree with what they are doing.
If I had the cash I'd invest in the company myself, unfortunately I don't. They have a reasonably good chance, with a little bit of luck and support, in hitting the big time.
Finally, I'm overjoyed to see this post by Tony Lucas (the guy behind FlexiScale) on the importance of Interoperability and Portability in the cloud computing world. I couldn't agree more, and I believe that FlexiScale (at the infrastructure layer of the software stack) and Reasonablysmart.com (at the platform or framework layer of the software stack) have the potential to be real game changers in this service world.
To James Duncan and Tony Lucas, fortune favours the brave ... I'm cheering for you both.
The shape of things to come ...
Every year, for over seven years, I used to write reports and presentations on the future of 3D printing. I was never very successful at pushing this idea forward in the companies I worked with and occasionally I found myself a lone voice on the disruptive nature of this technology.
The very idea that people would in the future manufacture their own products was generally considered unlikely. I happened to disagree but then that's the real issue with breakthrough innovations (as opposed to radical and incremental), it's full of uncertainty and no-one has the answers. By the time that a trend seems likely, then it's well on the path to becoming commonplace. As any bookie will tell you, there has always been a inverse relationship between the future value of something and the certainty we have about it.
Today, the Philips spin-off Shapeways is creating a compelling case for a future of personal manufactured items and the mere fact that a company such as Philips is testing the waters is interesting in itself. Of course Shapeways (see the video below) deals purely with physical design and doesn't yet allow the creation of hybrid objects containing both electronic and physical structure. Since the technology to create such hybrids has existed since 2004, it should be interesting to see how they develop the service.
Whilst 3D printing has yet to become a hot activity like web 2.0, enterprise 2.0 and concepts like cloud computing, such activities are hot precisely because they are becoming more well defined, understood and more common. The decline in the future differential value of such activities to a business goes hand in hand with the growth of industries delivering such products and services as volume operations. Eventually these activities will become commonplace, commodity-like and considered to be little more than a cost of doing business. The use of 3D printing techniques to manufacture personal objects is already on the path to becoming common and though its impact on society will take time, the effect will be profound. It's not hot yet, but it will be soon.
When trying to spot future trends (a fools errand at the best of times), the focus is not on the hot but instead that which is rare, uncertain, has potential and is often dismissed as impossible. The focus is on the unlikely and uncertain.
The future trends that I take a personal interest in concern the fields of biological manufacturing, biological energy production and the creation of new languages which describe both digital and physical form.
Will they become hot? ... who knows ... I think so, but then that's uncertainty for you.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By the pricking of my thumbs ...
... something silent this way comes.
I'm guessing that the creators of the silent electric sports car capable of 125mph are expecting us all to develop a supernatural sixth sense in order to avoid being knocked down.
Silent cars ... supernatural powers ... fiendishly evil, if you ask me. I'd suggest ducking the inventors and if they float .. well, burn 'em, they're witches!
It's a hard knock life ...
Debt exceeds GDP, inflation exceeds interest rates and the future is one of a fairly chunky correction. That's normal, that's what should be expected as we've been living beyond our means ever since debt controls were relaxed and the Government of that day starting flogging the silverware in order to provide tax breaks (Milton's Folly).
Some folks want us to reduce interest rates in order to encourage more spending and prop up this debt ridden economy. This should be no surprise as the alternative is a realisation that debt has to eventually be repaid and our over-pricing of assets, such as housing, doesn't actually create real wealth.
The logic of interest rate cuts is based upon an assumption that the current inflation levels are very short-term and that somehow growth in the future will overcome our debt issues. This is akin to the desperate poker player placing ever larger bets in the hope that their luck will change.
The rude awakening is that we need to manage inflation, increase interest rates & taxation as is necessary and be prepared to accept the likelihood of recession, repossessions and stringent Government cost control. Whilst we can't let the banking system fail, there is no reason why it shouldn't be in public ownership and we really need to stop propping up a failing private system.
Whilst the reckless behaviour of the financial sector is culpable for much of the failure, if you're looking for someone to blame then the chances are a mirror is a good bet. Many of us have been complicit in the consumer debt culture and the easy money of the housing boom; dropping interest rates isn't going to help us overcome our addiction.
When you're in a hole, the first thing you need to do is to stop digging.
Completely quackers ...
A friend of mine, Tony Fish, kindly forwarded this joke to me. It obviously made me laugh and seeing that I have forty ducks running around the garden (along with eight Morhens, six Pheasants, the occasional Heron and the even more occasional Stag), I can understand the problem of duck avoidance.
Tales from the Duck side ...
Three women die together in an accident and go to heaven. When they get there, St. Peter says,
"We only have one rule here in heaven: don't step on the ducks!"
So they enter heaven, and sure enough, there are ducks all over the place. It is almost impossible not to step on a duck, and although they try their best to avoid them, the first woman accidentally steps on one. Along comes St. Peter with the ugliest man she ever saw. St. Peter chains them together and says,
"Your punishment for stepping on a duck is to spend eternity chained to this ugly man!"
The next day, the second woman accidentally steps on a duck and along comes St. Peter, who doesn't miss a thing. With him is another extremely ugly man. He chains them together with the same admonishment as for the first woman.
The third woman has observed all this and, not wanting to be chained for all eternity to an ugly man, is very, VERY careful where she steps. She manages to go months without stepping on any ducks, but one day St. Peter comes up to her with the most handsome man she has ever laid eyes on ... very tall, long eyelashes, muscular, and thin. St. Peter chains them together without saying a word.
The happy woman says,
"I wonder what I did to deserve being chained to you for all of eternity?"
The guy says,
"I don't know about you, but I stepped on a duck!"
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
If no-one has the answer ...
... where are the good sources of information?
Well, the problem with information sources in any emerging field is usually one of independence. Whilst many sites may talk about the subject, there is always the danger that you are being led to a specific conclusion: buy our product, research report or consultancy services.
As with most things in life, you should always take advice with a good pinch of salt unless there are compelling reasons to believe in the independence of the source or you have some personal trust relationship with the source.
Whilst there are many experts in the field, these are the people that I most strongly trust the opinions of:-
Enterprise 2.0: Euan Semple, Jenny Ambrozek, Andrew McAfee and Dion Hinchcliffe.
Cloud Computing: James Urquhart, Jesse Robbins, Artur Bergman and Rich Miller.
Social Media & Networks: Suw Charman-Anderson, Tara Hunt and Gavin Bell.
Future Technology: Tim O'Reilly, Matt Webb, James Duncan and Cory Doctorow.
This, of course, is simply my view. It's neither right nor wrong but instead a reflection of those things that matter to me.
Your view is probably completely different but then that's the beauty of freedom, participation and expression in the Internet age. No-one has the answers to an uncertain future and you have to decide where the good sources of information are. Don't let others make those decisions for you.
That said, there are some good people out there trying to bring you independent resources for information on particular subjects. Two of my favourites include the E2.0 portal by Simon Oxley and Nick Barker and Enterprise 2.0 Open by Bjoern Negelmann et al.
Who has the answer ....
I was recently asked for "answers" on how to implement web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0. I, like many others, can hazard a guess to a sensible course of action depending upon the company, but at this moment in time there are no answers merely informed guesses or what is commonly called recommendations.
Whilst web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 are not new fields, the technology having been used in commercial settings for many years now, it is still emergent.
What this means, is that we are still learning. This is particularly true when it comes to enterprise 2.0 because you're dealing with a complex network of people (which we barely understand), operating in an environment containing a mass of changing activities (which often we barely understand) into which we are introducing tools that expose new mechanisms of communication, collaboration, componentisation and participation (for which we barely understand the effect or the most suitable means of management).
Some activities are common and well defined and hence we can provide ideal mechanisms of control. However, unfortunately, those which are common and well defined are of declining strategic value due to their ubiquity in an industry. The hypothesis is that there exists an inverse relationship between the certainty about which we know something and its potential future value - a sort of uncertainty principle of future business value.
So genres of activities which are highly uncertain (such as web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0) have high potential future value. Unfortunately by the time that we have all the information, case studies, best practices and research to tell you the best way of achieving this value, the activity is ubiquitous and common and therefore has little.
I mention this because I have recently seen people touting themselves not only as subject matter experts in these field but also setting themselves up as gurus and offering answers.
As with the best snake oil traditions of the past, such claims are founded on weak evidence and you should be glad it is. When it comes to creating value, you need to be experimenting and anyone playing in these fields is just as likely to make the big break as anyone else.
No-one has all the answers to web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 yet, which is why these subjects still matter.
Monday, August 18, 2008
We can see what you're upto ...
We might not yet have our plethora of open sourced standards and compliance authorities, but we're starting to see more and more monitoring services appear for the cloud.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Merv swerves but will weebles wobble?
The primary objective of the monetary policy committee is to deliver price stability which means low inflation. Secondary to this, its objective is to support the Government’s economic goals.
Unfortunately there is a lot of pressure (by vested interests) on Merv "the swerve" et al. to consider dropping interest rates at a time when they are running behind an inflation rate that is still growing.
Personally, I think Merv has done a grand job (except for the swerve) and the blame for current crisis is firmly with the city. Despite all the caterwauling this is not the time for the MPC to wobble from its prime directive.
The first Borg is called Gordon ...
University of Reading scientists have created a robot which is controlled by 300,000 rat neurons (read more on RedOrbit).
Let's just hope it doesn't have toxoplasmosis.
E2.0 - it's all about centralisation then ...
"unlike a wiki, I will be vetting this list to ensure quality" - poor old wikipedia.
Jeremiah shows us how to use non-collaborative and non-participatory techniques to create a list of who's who's in the use of collaborative and participatory technology in the enterprise.
You couldn't make this stuff up.
Enterprise 2.0 concepts have been used in anger for the last eight years or so (though it only got the name recently). Many of the really interesting questions have been raised and explored, however there remains a lot of unknowns particularly from the issues of what an organisation actually is. Unfortunately the field is now a "hot" topic, and so as with the cloud computing field there are lots of turf wars.
Now it's completely reasonable for analysts, such as Jeremy, to have a personal interest in placing themselves at the centre of a field. Creating a "who's who" list is a tried and tested method of doing this. However, as with "cloud computing", vendor and analyst interests are not necessarily the same as yours and so it really should be the community of users who decide.
That is the point of collaboration and participation after all.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Having created a non-cat lolcat, I had a quick peek for others. This made me laugh out loud.
moar funny pictures
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Black comedy ....
I couldn't resist this, if only to wind up the doom sayers.
moar funny pictures
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Eyes down for a full house ...
Well, I'm sure all the looney tunes are out there making predictions for what the LHC will find, just to annoy all those sensible people from the scientific community.
So I thought I'd get in on the act by making some completely pointless random guesses based upon absolutely nothing at all. Zero, zilch, nada ...
So here are my long shots:-
- ATLAS will discover that microscopic black holes are produced which will immediately decay by Bekenstein-Hawking radiation.
- The Higgs boson won't be found bringing into question the whole standard model.
- ATLAS will discover a new high energy particle that rapidly disappears out of "existence", leaving no artifacts.
- The LHCb will discover CP violation with anti-beauty quarks decay.
- Circumstantial evidence will be discovered for space-time having variable mass.
So why bother making nonsense predictions? Well, I'm hoping that others might take up the baton and improve them. In short, let's get the guessing game going just in case someone in the crowd already has the answers.
The worst that can happen, is it should help reinforce the view that knowing a bit of code doesn't gift a person with the ability to predict the inner workings of the universe.
A slight drizzle ...
There has been a lot of noise created recently about the downtime in GMail and the issues this has caused. Alan Patrick posts about how this is "pouring rain on the cloud computing parade".
Let's be clear, this is a minor hiccup compared to the potential black swan event that could occur. We desperately need some resolution on the issues of portability and interoperability between different providers for what are, after all, ubiquitous activities.
I've argued many times for the need for open sourced standards at different levels of the software stack as it moves from a product to a service based economy. These arguments are based upon the concepts and dangers caused by a lack of second sourcing. I've also argued that many technology vendors (except the most enlightened) are unlikely to shift willingly to a service based world without trying to maximise their position through lock-in.
In the past, the usual response I received was that this would limit innovation and competition. This has never been true, as innovation in the service world should be in operations and not product differentiation. Competition can be created by encouraging operational excellence whilst maintaining a standard reference model, hence my argument for AGPL as the ideal license. Whilst some agree with such a view, few are willing to accept that business consumers need to form associations to push vendors towards open sourced standards.
If you want interoperability and portability, you're almost certainly going to have to fight for it.
For those who haven't seen my talk from OSCON last year, I thought I'd re-post it here. It covers some of the basics.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Caught my eye ...
I stumbled across two things of huge interest to me, one new and one old.
First, the new news is that a £1.5 million grant has been awarded for investigation into a molecular manufacturing system for diamondoid products.
Secondly, well, just watch the video ...
Shoot ... foot .... ouch ....
If you have a bad online reputation caused by some big audience blogger dissing you, then use four recruitment consultants when looking for a new role rather than the usual three, as approx. 27% will reject you.
Since the cost of adding another executive search agency to your job hunting schedule is normally a few emails and maybe a telephone call (despite claims to the contrary, in my experience they rarely interview candidates and instead leave this to the client) then the additional cost is probably around £10-£20 (including your time at minimum wage).
However, the time and effort involved in generating a good online reputation is vast and so is the cost of losing it by becoming known as a blogger who likes to take pot shots at people, especially if those people can't or won't fight back.
Once you start hurling abuse online at someone who is unable to mount a fair defense, then this is just plain bullying. Any moral high ground is lost and any valid point is now insignificant.
In terms of the human impact, the blogosphere is more of a blogopond and we do tend to exaggerate how big the fish are.
A plea for sanity ...
There has recently been a lot of discussion about "evolutionary" concepts in the cloud computing world.
As an ex-geneticist who trained at Cambridge University, I would be very grateful if all those wishing to use evolutionary theory as part of a PR exercise would actually read something about the subject matter before mangling it.
I know it is tempting to simply combine half misunderstood concepts like "gene mutation" and "survival of the fittest" into your own grand unifying theory of evolution, but please try and do some background reading first. That's the annoying thing about science, it does require some hard graft and learning.
Whilst an in-depth understanding of a few computer based languages makes the learning of other computing languages a relatively trivial task, this logic does not hold for other systems. Just because I can make a reasonable hack with C++ & SQL, does not make me a master of the universe, a great philosopher and omniscient about all other fields.
It sometimes seems as though some within the IT industry can get a bit carried away with their own abilities ... cure for cancer, no problem, I can already create entire universes in smalltalk.
If you're going to start discussing a field, have the courtesy to read about the subject matter before making your pronouncements.
P.S. On the subject of smalltalk and virtual worlds, I think the work being done at the Croquet Consortium is worth a look.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Personal moments in technology ...
I thought I'd list a few publications which have had a significant impact in my way of thinking about technology :-
- Joseph Schumpeter (1942). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.
- Norbert Wiener (1948). Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.
- Rogers, Everett M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations.
- J.C. McVeigh (1984). Energy Around the World: An Introduction to Energy Studies : Global Resources, Needs, Utilization.
- Herbert A. Simon (1990). Reason in Human Affairs.
- Thomas Davenport (1993). Process Innovation: Reengineering Work Through Information Technology.
- Neal Stephenson (1996). The Diamond Age.
- Michael E. Porter (1996). Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance.
- Jared Diamond (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
- Christensen, Clayton M. (1997). The Innovator's Dilemma.
- Sunny Y. Auyang (1999). Foundations of Complex-system Theories.
- Eric S. Raymond (1999). The Cathedral & the Bazaar.
- Tim O'Reilly (1999). Hardware, Software and Infoware.
- Nicholas G. Carr (2004). Does IT Matter.
- Rudy Rucker (2004). Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite.
- Bruce Sterling (2005). Shaping Things.
- Tom Peters (2006). Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age.
- Scott Berkun (2007). The Myths of Innovation.
The commoditisation of content
The transition from analogue to digital photos significantly changed the relationship between users and their photos. At one point, every picture taken had to be printed however with the advent of DSC (digital still cameras) you could suddenly take, delete and re-take as many photos as you liked. This change of activity changed our value relationship with the media, though the importance of the moment that was captured may remain unchanged.
The digitisation of content and the commoditisation of the means of mass communication through the internet has also significantly changed our value relationships with content based industries such as newspapers and music. In some cases we have started to lose the physical link to the media (i.e. a music CD) and our favourite songs have become little more than index entries on our ipod. Since digital music can be copied and shared at virtually no cost, we tend to value the experience (the song itself) as opposed to the medium. As more and more music becomes freely available, we seem to expect that experience to be free and we appear to be increasingly only willing to pay for "enhanced" experience, such as gigs themselves.
So why should more and more music become freely available? The medium itself (whether CD, LP, tape or other) used to act as a barrier to participation in the music industry due to the cost of manufacture and distribution. The commoditisation of the means of mass communication and the digitisation of content have simultaneously eroded both these barriers and the value we place on the medium. "Free" music is almost inevitable.
The same is increasingly true of journalism. Anyone can freely publish and distribute "news" and our value relationship becomes less about the medium (a newspaper) and more about the experience (whether this is trusted news). If the blogosphere eventually creates a reputation based network with timely, trusted and readable news then the old medium will decay. "Free" news is almost inevitable.
This is not necessarily a bad thing (unless you're a traditional journalist or musician) as it will provide new means for future budding artists to quickly reach a wider audience. Whilst it is more meritocratic, providing opportunity for those with ability, it will also drive the "price" to zero through competition. The path to free is almost inevitable for any content or knowledge which is suitable for digitisation and distribution to mass audiences. None of this is new, just take a look at wikipedia.
Radio 4 recently featured a discussion on the future of e-books. Now regardless of whether you like it or not, the e-book has the potential to change our value relationship with books. When combined with the further commoditisation of stories through digitisation and the erosion of value created by activities such as project gutenberg, we should see a mad dash to zero. Competition in the marketplace will eventually (but slowly) drive us in this direction as more and more budding authors release their content for free and seek revenue through other means. "Free" books is almost inevitable.
Well, that's the common story. However what is forgotten is that any story or song is an experience and the way to counter this drive towards zero is to create an experience far beyond simply reading or listening and to instantiate that experience into a physical form.
The "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" is a futuristic example of this, an instantiated experience in physical form far beyond that of something which can be easily commoditised, as it is only relevant to the holder of the book.
To survive commoditisation and the drive towards zero, the experience has to become more uniquely adapted to the individual.
In my view, the future of music, books and news is brighter than ever .... just not in the form that we are used to. A new art form await us.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Caveat emptor ...
In a blatant attempt to add more wickedness into the world of aaS ("as a Service"), I thought I'd create the pointless terms of PaaS? and PaaSee (I hate the acronym wars anyway).
So here are my two new definitions:-
PaaS? (Product as a Service?): A PaaS? vendor, is a vendor who has not yet quite grasped that a utility-like service world is only suitable for those activities which are well defined and ubiquitous. As such, competition should be based on price and quality of service (service differentiation) rather than features (product differentiation). Without an ecosystem of vendors competing around the provision of an open sourced standard (i.e. an operational open sourced reference model of what it to be provided), then consumers will be faced with serious strategic concerns regarding second sourcing, security and competitive pricing which will in turn increase the barriers to adoption of this new technology. Due to this lack of understanding, PaaS? vendors attempt to bring their products into the service world with little or no thought regarding the questions of interoperability, portability and competitive ecosystems. PaaS? vendors tend to focus on:-
- The innovative benefits of their Product as a Service : the reality is that any componentisation of the IT stack will create such benefits.
- The competitive advantage that their Product as a Service brings : the reality is that as the activity in question is ubiquitous (i.e. suitable for utility-like service provision) then there will be little or no strategic value in the service as it is more of a cost of doing business.
- The ability to customise their Product as a Service: the reality is that customisation, new features and any activity which shifts away from a core reference model of the service will decrease interoperability and portability. The strategic gain for a consumer of customisation of a ubiquitous activity is likely to be far less than the strategic loss caused by a lack of second sourcing.
PaaS? vendors are obviously clueless and not to be trusted with your data.
PaaSee (Product as a Service - extremely evil): A PaaSee vendor is one who is well aware of the commoditisation of IT and the shift to services for ubiquitous activities and hence is actively attempting to bring lock-in into a service world in order to protect and maxmimise revenues until such time as they forced to change their behaviour. PaaSee vendors assume that business consumers of IT lack the strategic wit to see the game that is being played and they are quite willing to sell your grandmother to turn an extra buck. PaaSee vendors are definitely not to be trusted with your data.
So what should a budding adventurer in the world of cloud computing do? Simple, unless you have marketplace of service providers with interoperability and portability between them, then make sure you have a plan for a complete loss of service.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I've been somewhat tardy when it comes to publishing videos of my recent talks. Life is very busy at the moment with my new venture in the physical / digital world but I will get around to publishing them soon. Thanks for being patient.
The same is true for my book. I am not yet happy with all the ideas and since time is scarce it will take much longer than I originally anticipated.
Raging Clouds ....
There have been some interesting debates on cloud computing over the last few days. I thought I'd mention Tim O'Reilly's and Hugh MacLeod's posts.
I left a comment and I've summarised my thoughts here just in case my comments don't make it onto their blog posts (this happens quite often).
The question of large scale monopolies in what is today called "cloud computing" has been raised many times before in the past by Tim O'Reilly and others. There does exist a real danger here of network effects particularly through mechanisms such as aggregated services (i.e. market reports, preferential pricing or performance) along with the more obvious danger from the creation of a large proprietary technology based cloud.
None of this has been kept secret, it however has only just recently (in the last few years) become more popular. My reasoning, back in 2006, for the need to open source Zimki (a now defunct utility computing cloud) was based upon much earlier conversations that were raging about the dangers of a lack of portability & interoperability in a future utility computing world. None of this was new stuff then, it was just not widely known.
The move towards the cloud is almost inevitable (the business equivalent of the Red Queen Effect) due to cost efficiencies and speed of new service release. The use of open sourced standards (operational open source reference models of services to be provided) such as Eucalyptus (as Tim points out) is a way to prevent the formation of artificial markets, though as JP notes it does require concerted community action. Such action is in the interest of general business consumers for all the reasons of second sourcing.
As for the connection between cloud and services (as in service oriented design, architecture and "as a service") this is simply the shift of a number of business activities along the S-Curve of transformation from innovation to commoditisation. This is also allowing for greater componentisation and hence new innovations such as mashups etc. It is all connected by the same underling process and a tri-partite effect of participation, network effects and componentisation which is both accelerating innovation in the IT field and commoditising that which is ubiquitous. The pipeline of creative destruction has accelerated and this is what connects it all.
Finally, James Governor's comment that "Customers always vote with their feet, and they tend vote for something somewhat proprietary" whilst insightful is also somewhat unfair. It was clear from CloudCamp London that potential consumers are concerned about the issues of interoperability and portability and none thought that proprietary technology would resolve this issue. I feel compelled to defend those users, as the assertion that James puts forward is that the average CIO lacks the strategic wit of their counterparts in manufacturing.
This might be true, James might be right and maybe CIOs of today have become lazy on the easy pickings of IT. In such a case, the move by some companies over the last few years to put former heads of manufacturing in charge of IT and to bring in those skills honed through years of cut-throat commoditised activities and the strategic imperative of second sourcing may well turn out to be wise moves indeed. It would be unwise however to simply focus on the commoditisation of IT as both extremes of innovation and commoditisation need to managed simultaneously.
I remain hopeful, that those governing consumption of IT within business will realise the need to form consumer associations to push the industry towards open sourced standards for ubiquitous activities. What I cheekily called "Gang up now before the *aaS cloud gets you"
Time will tell.
Monday, August 04, 2008
We own your clouds ...
I've long argued that we need open sourced standards combined with compliance authorities using trademarks in order to ensure a functioning utility computing market.
However, companies trademarking generic terms like "cloud computing" is not that helpful. Thanks to James for spotting this.
You're a cat's best friend ....
Apparently, not many cat owners are aware of toxoplasmosis, a protozaon parasite that cats are the primary host for.
The parasites reproduces in the gut of the cat, the eggs are passed through the cat's faeces to other warm blooded mammals (such as rats, mice etc) which are then eaten by other cats hence completing the parasite's lifecycle.
Toxoplasmosis is known to change the behavior of some intermediary hosts. This includes slower reactions, attraction to cat urine and increased risk taking. This is all good news for the parasite as in the case of mice and rats this increases the likelihood of them being eaten by another cat and therefore continuing the parasite's lifecycle.
It's also worth noting that 30-60% of humans (such as cat owners) are infected with toxoplasmosis and those that are have an increased risk of traffic accidents.
In other words, if you find yourself strangely attracted to the smell of the litter tray and having more than your fair share of accidents, then maybe Mr Tiddles (or whatever name you call it) has been messing with your neurons.