Look into the crystal ball, what do you see?

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It is there on the table. A large crystal ball mounted on what looks to be a black plastic base. It appears as if it is filled with liquid, a vicious fluid in which milk is suspended.

The milky fluid begins to separate and reveals? At first it is the face of the Cloud Whisperer. I can see her lips move and suddenly hear her saying “filter". “filter?” I say out loud “coffee filter?” The Cloud Whisperer just shakes her head, looking at me sadly. “Filter.”  she says again, this time placing the EMphAsis on the first letter letting the F drag out for a full syllable. I shook my head not understanding.

“I’m only supposed to say one word” the cloud whisperer finally said. “Filter what you hear about cloud futures.” She finished and then disappeared in a puff of smoke.

That was a cool trick I thought. But I understood what she was asking, filter what I was about to see with what I knew to be real. The future was coming into focus.

The first thing that became clear and visible was an image of a developer hunched over a computer. It looked to be a Macintosh computer. The developer was drinking Monster and typing away on a wireless keyboard. He appeared to be building a mobile application. We entered the room he was in fully hovering over his shoulder. He misspelled the world Atlas (ATLLAS) as we watched. His application appeared to be a navigation application. As we watched he brought up a window on his computer to emulate the application in a mobile environment. I noticed that the phone had 8 network bars rather than the 4 we have today, and all 8 seemed to be full. I decided I should probably filter that information, but the Cloud Whisperer appeared in front of me shaking her head so I decided to believe it.

My first glimpse of the future was a mobile device developer building a new application on a mobile device with what I assumed to be double the network we have now. A future so bright you had to go underground to lose mobile data connectivity.

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What can you do?

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Living in the technology box. My new favorite column in the Washington Post this morning talked about gadgets talking over the world. From VCR’s that used to blink 12, to microwaves that beep when they are done gadgets and technology have changed the world around us.

Technology has crept into the world and now its hip and cool to be anti-technology a little. Let’s consider for a moment the positive and negative impact of technology in the short run of our world.

  • First many more babies make it today than before. We are focused on (as we should be) infant mortality. To many small infants die each year so improving that is a great addition that technology makes.
  • We can kill more people without ever seeing them. Once upon a time warfare was a face to face endeavor. Now its simply pushing a button. Frankly a huge negative impact of technology.
  • The international space station. Technology has one island built where most countries get along. A few countries aren’t playing but its still better than it was. This is a technology positive.
  • Identity theft is now a crime. Where once it took great skill to steal the essence of a person with technology you can now not only steal their identity you can erase them. This is a huge technology negative.

I picked four that came to mind quickly simply because that was the concept itself. The positive and negative impact of technology and technologists is and continues to be high.

JFK once said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” If I could amend that great speech and insert technology (positive) into that perhaps for the future it would read “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what you can do, build or deliver that will help your country.”

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It just makes me sad to see people rushing to the certification merry-go-round…

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Recently I heard of some new cloud certifications. I have written about the great certification merry-go-round that a lot of people have hopped on. I was on that as well for a long time. I have come to realize that you can’t certify the human being only their skills and in some cases, frankly, the human being is more important than the skills.

There are quite a few people in the world that have ethics and other issues that make them successful on the surface but in reality they don’t ever really succeed. Someone else pays the price for their success.

You can’t however, certify humanity. That ship has long since sailed.

So what can we do? We cannot certify that someone is a good person only that they know the component pieces of whatever we are certifying. (TOGAF or Zachman if you please.)

Knowledge isn’t humanity it is simply a tool of humanity.

Perhaps in the vein of my previous character I should create a new character “The Certification Whisperer.” I am not sure it will do any good. I think the we have to be certified ship has long since sailed as well as the ethics ship. All that is left in port now is an old certification fishing vessel, grounded because it has more holes than deck planks now.

I feel almost a sense of loss. We began the quest for certifications with such high hopes and promises. We traveled the world seeking to make things right. In the end we simply fell short and built the “economy” of certifications.

Get yours today while they are still 50% off.

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What is that oncoming light? Train or Savoir?

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From 1960 to 1970 and probably well into the decade of the 70’s the mainframe computer ruled. Before 1960 it was the only option but many fewer people really could get to and leverage that technology. It was a core centralized store built around the concept of centralized computing power.

From loosely 1980 until loosely the mid-90’s the personal computer began to assert its dominance. With the PC came the concept of the server as well. Smaller application like email and file sharing moved away from the mainframe and to the smaller solutions. These things began appearing on our desks called hard drives. The hard drive as much as the pc was a huge changing factor, once you could move data to a single location and begin to consistently leverage it over and over without having to flop floppies to get it and save it the world of computing changed.

From there everything else simply builds on the concepts and paths laid out more than 40 years ago. Cloud to me seems as much a course correction as it does a revolution. There are the elements of the mainframe (centralized data) and the elements of the pc/hard drive combination (connection off-line).

The thing I wonder about now is truly where is the revolution. What is the next step. The next thing that will change the world? Is it security products that make it impossible for someone else to use a device assigned to us? Wearable computers? The Phillip K. Dick version of the future where everything is tied to your retina scan (Minority Report).

There is a light coming towards us. What is that light? Is it the oncoming train that will knock us off the wrong track so that we can start again, begin over and move on? Or is it the solution (the savoir) we have dreamed of for 40 years now.

I wonder. For a time I thought it was consolidation the profession surrounding architecture and architects. Making that a stronger more viable view to and of the world. But that isn’t the case. It is part of a solution, but not the solution.

What road lies ahead?

,doc

Final Jeopardy–application nirvana

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Well we survived Double Jeopardy and now we are ready for Final Jeopardy. Remember all answers must be in the form of a question. As always the final Jeopardy will decide the winner for today.

They do have ties on Jeopardy but not very often. So for our show we will assume that in fact there is no chance of a tie.

Who benefits most from Cloud Computing?

Queue the Jeopardy theme song.

Pick up your stylus – oh first you have to wager. What are you going to bet? Everything? Once you have your wager you can write down the answer.

Who benefits most from Cloud Computing?

Who are the end users Alex. (talk about a metaphysical answer – who is anyone, really?)

As Cloud becomes more and more prevalent we will see vendors (from yesterday’s blog) begin to fade away. Open source will force some organizations to stop developing their one-off solutions and we will slowly move towards a new application economy.

Smarter cloud enabled application that live within the rules and structure of cloud computing. Flexible, portable and elastic. Situational, physical and human limitation aware solutions that will deliver faster results.

A meshing of the human and machine boundaries so that they work together to provide a better, faster and easier to use interface.

What is application nirvana, Alex.

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Double Jeopardy, risk or reward?

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The next tile in our cloud Jeopardy game is Double Jeopardy. We can bet 100% of what we have (or up to 2000 if we don’t have anything at the time) on one cloud question.

Double Jeopardy is interesting first because you have to think through exactly what it is you are willing to risk. So the first thing you have to do is figure out do you have a lead. Who has a lead right now in cloud computing?

  • Amazon certainly has the name and the presence. They could probably go the full amount and go for the “true double.” No guarantees that they would get the right answer, but they would at least have a chance.
  • IBM has a lot of the pieces but a true double seems just out of their reach right now.
  • Rackspace and the other traditional hosting houses have like IBM a lot of the pieces but like IBM they would be just short of being able to go for a true double.
  • Microsoft has pieces, but they struggle with anything that isn’t Microsoft. They could probably go 1/2 their total but a double isn’;t in the cards right now until they are able to have a true stack in the space.
  • VMWare, Citrix and other software vendors all have pieces of the puzzle (redhat etc) but don’t have a true stack that is integrated and strong. They wouldn’t be able to bet more than a 1/4 of what they have in a double Jeopardy scenario. They could lose everything very quickly.

There are a number of other vendors today and many of them have a chance of becoming players in the short run. They don’t get to hold a clicker right now but they are close. The question now is in betting as detailed above, who gets the Double Jeopardy question right?

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Cloud Jeopardy continued…

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I’ll take Cloud Computing for 800 Alex.

As we move up the category you of course can make more money on the questions. The reality of cost savings is a tricky slope. As I have stated a number of times, if IT saves money in the short run. that money doesn’t magically trickle down to other IT programs. It is reabsorbed by the business as profit regained.

Cost savings is a very hard long term answer to the “what is cloud computing” question. In the form of question the reality is, what is money returned to the bottom line of the company Alex.

The only issue is that rapid prototyping and some of the other cloud value statements including efficiency are sadly really buried answers to questions that were posted five or six years what. What is automation of standardized tasks Alex. What is data center consolidation Alex. What is well the litany goes on and on. The reality of where we are is that we are driven by cost savings that often result in short term benefit but a long term cost. The initial cost of cloud computing solutions should have been buried in IT’s costs of five years ago. But as we entered a recession the reality is that the business cut IT’s costs and therefore the chance to have the framework for cloud already there.

What is penny wise but pound foolish Alex.

In the space of 300 words I have obliterated my initial argument for the value of cloud computing. However there are others. In my article on Safegov.org (http://www.safegov.org/2012/1/30/data,-data-everywhere-and-not-a-drop-to-drink,-why-cloud-hosters-will-change-security-forever ) I talk about the fact that cloud hosting organizations will help in the security space. That is a value proposition of cloud computing that today opposes most organizations views of cloud (they view it as insecure).

The rapid prototyping and development environment is a small value proposition today. Once organizations are able to extend PaaS to provide cross cloud and cross software solution development bringing information, storage, applications (SaaS) into a development environment you will find that in fact that PaaS offering will be highly valuable.

Its not just about the cost.

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