Replace Mainframes with Human Frames…


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I have, expressed a number of times, as a technologist a feeling that I like so many around me are Ozmandias. You can look but you won’t see anything our works are below ground. There is no impressive tower with flashing lights saying “we built this.” You can look for our works ye mighty but in the end that will only bring despair.

We’ve moved things from the mighty mainframes to the cloud. The cloud is a perfect description of what we’ve migrated it, it is real (in a far away data center) but no longer under our thumbs. In the mainframe days there was almost a religious zeal about computing (thou shalt not touch yon mainframe in all its shimmering glory). We built data centers around the mainframe.

Really, we were building the first clouds with the mainframes. The concept of remote computing began with the mainframe. Certainly we evaluated the concepts of that initial computing process and realized we needed to offset and offload some of the processing. So we started distributing servers. The interesting thing about distributing anything is the reality of management. It is a tradition in my family to hide candy and eggs for Easter. Many families have that tradition. We distribute the eggs and candy and the kids run to find it. The reality is like disturbed computing we find Easter eggs many weeks after Easter that we had either forgotten where we put them initially, or they were accidentally moved or moved on purpose. Distributed computing brought the reduction of the mainframe and increased the value of operations teams.

I am not a futurist. I do not claim to have a view into what may be. I am simply rehashing what we have done to this point. We built great buildings around mainframes that we tore down. Then we realized (mostly by smell) that we had missed some of the eggs we had distributed. So we started consolidating them back into data centers and called them “clouds.”

We went from all hail the tape librarian to all hail the ITSM lead. Yet we push onward. What lies beyond that we do not see now? Applications. I started my career in IT as an email and collaboration person. I worked with much smarter people than I to build a mail system and a Lotus Notes system that well just worked. We leveraged the Notes Directory and the Novell directories to provide user logins, installation of critical software and access to our network. In the center of the network I built was a softswitch box that provided SMTP, connection to MSMail, Lotus Notes Mail and CCMail. All the mail systems were running in different sections of the company. We added MS Exchange in the end. The system, though a diamond (everything going to the tip before going back out to the edges) worked.

You see I wonder if that is coming back. In my book “The Syncverse” I talk about the concept of the Myverse, a place that is dedicated to me. The concept of a personal cloud. But as I think about the concept of the Internet of things, and the Myverse I begin to realize that your personal cloud may be all around you all the time. Devices becoming less independent and more about services. IE your television as a service. Your refrigerator as a service. Your personal cloud extended to all the personal devices you own in your house, at work and at play.

A future, like the past built around a computing device. Just replace mainframe with a human frame.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

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