Circular Technology

December 5, 2008

This weekend I took my son and two of his classmates to a Dallas Stars game. With three 15 year old boys in the car, I simply did the driving and listened to the conversation. Of course the conversation was broader than just the three of them. They all had cell phones, of course, and each one was texting several other friends as they conversed together. So as near as I can tell, the conversation encompassed about a dozen people – three of whom were in my car.

Here’s a snippet of the conversation:

“I hate the auto-correct feature on my iPhone. Whenever I try to type in abbreviations, it changes it to something I don’t want.”

“They fixed that in the latest software update. Here, let me turn that off for you.”

“Cool. Thanks!”

“I like my Blackberry because it has buttons I can actually mash. I can enter text without having to look.”

“What do you think about the new Blackberry Storm? How would you enter text without looking? I mean the screen clicks but there’s no buttons.”

“Hey, why don’t they make a phone where you can enter text with voice recognition? Then you could just speak your words into the phone, they pop up as text on the screen, and the only button you have to push is ‘Send’.”

“Well, if you’re gonna talk into your phone, why don’t you just call them?”

Suddenly, the technology has come full circle. LOL!

As SoftLayer prepares its cloud computing offerings for market, I think the same thing is going on. Technology is coming full circle.

When I first started making my living in technology in the late 1980’s, I was a programmer. Anyone remember COBOL? The software company where I worked had a mainframe that they leased from IBM. They didn’t own it. Each employee was connected via terminal – a gargantuan metal monochrome monitor with a clacky metal keyboard that weighed probably over 100 pounds and could withstand a bomb blast complete with a cable that could also be used to dock a cruise ship. The company paid for its IT needs based on CPU time. Naturally, we were motivated to write programs that minimized CPU usage in the mainframe. All of our applications and corporate email were connected to a central IT source.

After the mainframe, standalone desktop machines began popping up. Then they began to be connected with Token Ring or Novell networks and the client/server architecture was born. When the Internet came along, these machines on people’s desks made the phenomena of Cyber Monday possible.

Now according to Lance, everything is “cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud.” SoftLayer’s cloud offering will allow our customers to keep all their applications and corporate email in one central IT source which the customer will not own, i.e., “the cloud.” It will be billed on a usage basis. The more the customer uses, the more he/she will be billed. The computing power can be instantly scaled up or down as needed. Just as I was motivated to be efficient in CPU usage in the 80’s, companies will be able to control costs on the fly by adopting efficient use of cloud resources.

This sounds a lot like the late 1980’s to me. But I never dreamed that that beast of a machine in the room down the hall could ever be called “the cloud.”

Categories: 
Keywords:
Categories: