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Automation and Orchestration – a Conclusion

This post is part of the "Automation-Orchestration" architecture series. Posts of this series together comprise a whitepaper on Automation and Orchestration for Innovative IT-aaS Architectures.

 

Automation and Orchestration are core capabilities in any IT landscape.

Traditionally, there’d be classical on-premise IT, comprised of multiple enterprise applications, (partly) based on old-style architecture patterns like file exchange, asynchronous time-boxed export/import scenarios and historic file formats.

At the same time, the era of the Cloud hype has come to an end in a way that Cloud is ubiquitous; it is as present as the Internet as such has been for years, and the descendants of Cloud – mobile, social, IoT – are forming the nexus for the new era of Digital Business.

For enterprises, this means an ever-increasing pace of innovation and a constant advance of business models and business processes. As this paper has outlined, automation and orchestration solutions form the core for IT landscapes to efficiently support businesses in their striving for constant innovation.

Let’s once again repeat the key findings of this paper:

  • Traditional “old style” integration capabilities – such as: file transfer, object orientation or audit readiness – remain key criteria even for a cloud-ready automation platform.
  • In an era where cloud has become a commodity, just like the internet as such, service centered IT landscapes demand for a maximum of scalability and adaptability as well as multi-tenancy in order to be able to create a service-oriented ecosystem for the advancement of the businesses using it.
  • Security, maximum availability, and centralized management and control are fundamental necessities for transforming an IT environment into an integrated service center supporting business expansion, transformation, and growth.
  • Service orchestration might be the ultimate goal to achieve for an IT landscape, but system orchestration is a first step towards creating an abstraction layer between basic IT systems and business-oriented IT-services.

Therefore, for IT leaders, choosing the right automation and orchestration solution to support the business efficiently might be the majorly crucial decision to either become a differentiator and true innovation leader or (just) remain the head of a solid – yet: commodity – enterprise IT.

The CIO of the future is a Chief Innovation (rather than “Information”) Officer – and Automation and Orchestration both build the core basis for innovation. What to look at in getting to the right make-or-buy decision was the main requirement for this paper.

 

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Read “The Circle” and opt out!

Is it – as a committed social media aficionado – applicable to call for an opt out of it all? It is, once you’ve read “The Circle”, the 2013 fictional novel by author Dave Eggers.

Eggers portraits a powerful internet company making money through advertising (links to Google or Facebook are purely accidental, of course). Mae Holland is a tech worker and in her second job after having graduated she’s given an opportunity at The Circle – an opportunity which most tech workers these days desperately seek for. Mae got support from her college roommate Annie who had already made it to the group of the 40 most senior managers in the company, directly reporting to the founders – “Three Wise Men”: Tom Stenton, Eamon Bailey and Ty Gospodinov. While the first two actively involve themselves in the company’s endeavours, Ty works on new developments mostly secluded in the background.

Mae starts in Customer Experience and works herself up the chain by overcommitting to objectives and seemingly easily (but in truth with great personal effort and sacrifice) following the increasingly demanding involvement not only in her work duties but also all virtual and physical social interaction with fellow colleagues. She not-falls-in-love with one nerdy Circler she has sex with, whom she somehow admires for his technological development of a system protecting children from violence; she commences to desperately long for encounters with another Circler, who becomes increasingly mysterious as the company develops itself more and more towards total transparency.

Eggers, the author, does not keep the reader long from his message: One of the first major announcements of one of the Wise, Eamon Bailey, is a development called “SeeChange” – an extremely low-cost, top-quality A/V camera, capable of running on battery for about 2 years and streaming its crystal clear 4k images via satellite onto the SeeChange platform. Anyone can install cameras anywhere, they are barely noticed and everybody can logon to SeeChange with their unique – very personal and real – identity, their “TruYou”.

Rings a bell? Well, this is only the starting point into a rollercoaster of more awesomely cool technology tools, all aggregated through “TruYou” and made available to everyone anytime.

Dave Eggers is brilliantly creating a staggering balance between technological blessings and their benefit for employees, communities and the people as a whole on the one hand and the increasing sacrifice individuals could be demanded to make on the other hand in order to leverage that technological advance. This is – in short – the utter embarrassing red line throughout the whole book from the very first page until the closing line.

Of course, “The Circle” addresses the time we spend in social media, the way we communicate with each other (personally and virtually), the blessings and the threats that a modern, technology-based life bears. While reading, I was constantly torn between appreciating the sketched development (note: this isn’t science fiction, this is just the next step in a logical advance that we’re facing) and detesting the commitment it would demand from the ones making real use of it. Being into like two thirds of it and swallowing the book’s lines in nightly sessions, my only remaining questions was this: Will Eggers eventually manage to destroy my thorough belief in the two main importances of modern social media involved life and communication:

  • Utter transparency: I want to always know – or: be able to know – who does what with my data
  • And utter free will: I want to always be allowed to opt out, if I want to

I will not disclose the answer – I’d be “spoiling”. BUT – if you haven’t done so far, I recommend: Read “The Circle”. And then consider carefully, where and what to opt in or opt out of. It remains important.

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P.S.: There’ll be a movie comin’ this year, starring Tom Hanks as Eamon Bailey. Don’t read the articles on it, as they all contain spoilers on one important turn of the story!

 

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#Digitalize 2015 – Standortbestimmung, ein wenig schmerzhaft

Im Feature-Bild oben finden sich nur einige Zitate aus der heute im Chaya Fuera über die Bühne gegangenen Konferenz “#Digitalize 2015“. Und ich wage hier ein Review der Veranstaltung, die für mich – dies gleich eingangs – erstaunlich dünn besucht war. Angenommen hatte ich ein übervolles Plenum mit Platzproblemen im eher kleinen Foyer – zu Beginn war der Saal halb voll. Gut – das änderte sich; dennoch blieb das Event kaum mehr als eine Standortbestimmung für die Digitale Branche in Österreich. Nichts exorbitant Richtungsweisendes, nichts epochal Neues – und dennoch: eine ausnehmend wichtige Standortbestimmung. Und damit neben den monatlichen Selbstbeweihräucherungs-Events der APA DBT Community und einigen unbeholfenen Versuchen kleinerer Netzwerke wohl das wichtigste Event zum allgemeinen Digitalisierungstrend in diesem Land.

Die Menge an Speakern, die Confare für diese Konferenz zusammengetrommelt hatte, konnte sich ebenso sehen lassen wie die Durchmischung der Themen. Zwar führte das leider auch zu Skurrilitäten – wie z.B. dem QS-Vortrag von ZT Dr.tech. Wolfgang Prentner, der SW-Qualität aus einer etwa 20 Jahre alten Sicht beleuchtete. Gleichzeitig bekamen wir auch wahrlich Erhellendes zu hören und sehen – derartig “forward thinking”, dass sich Österreich – klassischer “late follower” bei derartigen Themen – eigentlich richtig festhalten muss.

Besonders – und gleich vorweg hervorzuheben – der Vortrag von Eric-Jan Kaak (@claptonline), der mit dem Statement: “‘Industrie 4.0’ und ‘Internet der Dinge’ lösen nichts,  wenn sie in ‘Organisation 1.0’, verbunden mit ‘Arbeitsplatz 1.4’  im ‘Businessmodell 0.1 Beta’ stattfinden” vorgestellt wurde. Man konnte meinen, dieser Mann wäre einem meiner früheren Arbeitgeber entsprungen, so plastisch real hat er die Inkompatibilitäten herkömmlicher Organisationsmodelle mit dem Digitalisierungszeitalter beschrieben (ich frage mich, wie viele anwesende  Entscheider sich bei seinen Worten bei der Nase genommen haben). Ein paar seiner Kernaussagen sinngemäß widergegeben: “Das Management hat sich beim Thema Innovation seit Jahren eine großzügige Auszeit gegönnt.” – “Hierarchie – das kommt von hieros – gottgleich, göttlich – und arche – Herrschaft – also: Gottgleiche Herrschaft. Das Problem dabei: Damit landet der Kunde immer bei einem Menschen unterster Stufe, der in der Regel systemfrustriert ist.” – “Eine moderne Organisation – bereit für die Herausforderung des digitalen Zeitalters – muss sich von ‘reporting structure’ zu ‘supporting structure’ wandeln.” Ich kenne selbst genügend Unternehmen, die davon etwa so weit entfernt sind wie das 1. industrielle vom jetzigen Zeitalter. Und die werden in 5 – 10 Jahren gestorben sein – das meinte auch Eric-Jan Kaak.

Kaak firmierte als Keynote am Programm; zeitlich viel zu spät für meine Begriffe. Die anderen beiden  Keynotes waren ähnlich interessant, wenngleich nicht ganz so spannend. Michael Krammer, Ventocom Managing Partner und Telco Veteran, bemühte Vergleiche – durchaus interessante Vergleiche: Vor 10 Jahren war das meistverkaufte Auto ein VW Golf mit dem ersten serienmäßigen Tempomat; heute ebenso – mit ein paar neuen serienmäßigen Assistenten. Das Handy der Wahl war damals das Nokia 6230i – sensationelle 1.3MP Kamera, 64k Datenrate, 8MB Speicher – heute ist es ein iPhone. Viel erschütternder allerdings die von Krammer vorgebrachten Beispiele, wie 3-4 Kunden im richtigen Moment mit den richtigen social  postings ein Produkt oder eine Strategie beeinflussen können. Daher wäre – so seine Ausführungen – Fairness und Transparenz, gleichermaßen innerbetrieblich und nach außen, oberstes Gebot in einer innovativen zeitgemäßen Unternehmensstrategie.

Dr. Mervyn G. Maistry von Ernst&Young setzte in diesem Stil fort und legte endlich mal angreifbar dar, was das oft bemühte exponentielle Wachstum der fortschreitenden Digitalisierung tatsächlich bedeutet: Wären 30 Schritte linear betrachtet 30 Meter, so sind 30 exponentielle Schritte eine Entfernung von 26 Erdumrundungen. Seine Warnung an Unternehmen: “Do not do old things with new technology or old technology newly. Key to Digitalization is to do new things.”

Neben den Keynotes der wohl interessanteste Teil der Veranstaltung war eine doch recht ansehnliche Menge an Fallbeispielen – wenngleich nicht alle das Prädikat “disruptiv” verdienen würden. Beispielsweise fällt der Vortrag von Dr. Manfred Wöhrl und Walter Pürk zu “Digital Signage” – der Slot war mit “konkretem Umsetzungsbeispiel” angekündigt – für mich maximal unter “interessant”; wirklich innovativ wirkten die gebrachten Beispiele noch nicht – wiewohl Wöhrl wie immer spannend und lebendig vortrug.

Ganz anders Andreas Zilch von PAC, der mit dem Korneuburger Logistiker HAVI ein Unternehmen präsentierte, das sich durch Smart Analytics und Einführung von IT in herkömmliche “supply chain” Prozesse zu einem unverzichtbaren Dienstleister der McDonalds-Kette gemacht hat (übrigens gibt’s die Fallbeispiel-Sammlung von PAC derzeit noch zum freien Download unter dem Stichwort “Innovation Register“).

Und sonst: Jürgen Weiss, DigitizedRebels Consulting, bot eine wahrlich amüsante Schau zum Thema “Emotion im Verkauf” – hauptsächlich gestützt auf das Genre interaktiver Videos – spannend vor allem für den Retail-Bereich. Mark Winkler, braintribe, erzählte seine – zugegeben schon etwas angestaubte aber – immer noch beeindruckende Geschichte, wie das braintribe-Flaggschiff “Tribefire” Digitalisierung durch Daten-Konsolidierung und -Präsentation unterstützt. Der SAP Innovation Officer Dr. Carsten Linz berichtete von den disruptiven Prozessmodellen, die mit SAP HANA möglich werden (ich konnte seine disruptive Meinung nicht ganz teilen, wenngleich HANA mit Sicherheit eine solide zukunftsweisende Technologie ist). Und der Group CIO der OMV, Dipl.-Kfm. Marcus Frantz, erklärte, wie Digitalisierung mit einer doch eher traditionellen “large scale IT” verknüpfbar werden kann – vielleicht der für den Wandel, den in Österreich Industrie, Handel, … und damit natürlich auch die IKT-Branche durchmachen werden müssen, wichtigste Vortrag überhaupt an diesem Tag.

Dass der Ideengeber eines wirklich tollen StartUps – www.way2stage.com – hingegen lediglich Eric Riess runterbetete, war dann doch wieder ein wenig enttäuschend. Ich drück ihm trotzdem für die morgen anstehende Funding-Runde die Daumen!

Zu guter Letzt zwei Slots, die in einem vollständigen Review der #Digitalize nicht fehlen dürfen: Mag. Martin-Hannes Giesswein war so schnell wieder von der Bühne herunten, wie er nach der Pause plötzlich auf ihr stand: In den scharfen 10 Minuten seiner Präsentation hat er aber dem Plenum mehr mitgegeben als viele andere Speaker-Kollegen heute: In der Essenz die Botschaft: “Die Generation Y wird die Digitale Transformation vorantreiben; sie wird Umsetzer und Kunde zugleich sein. Wenn Führungskräfte in diesem Land ihr Unternehmen erfolgreich durch die Revolution führen wollen, dann müssen sie lernen, wie man eine Generation Y führt.”

Und dann noch Mag. Ulrike Huemer, CIO der Stadt Wien: Ich bleibe selten bei einer derartigen Konferenz wirklich bis zum Schluss. War es Kalkül der Veranstalter oder reiner Zufall? Was auch immer – Mag. Huemer verstand es nicht nur, die Zeit bis zum ersehnten Beginn der “Vienna Digital Night” (gleich im Anschluss an die #Digitalize on location programmiert) drastisch zu verkürzen – auch was sie berichtete – hauptsächlich mit welchen Projekten die Stadt Wien innovative und zukunftsweisende Veränderungen hin zu einer echten Smart City vorantreiben möchte – hat mir doch einiges an Bewunderung abgerungen. Nachzulesen in der www.digitaleagenda.wien – es lohnt sich.

Digitale Standortbestimmung, also – alles in allem war es das. Nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Dass der Standort Österreich – wie leider so oft – dem Standort “Welt” auch bei der Umsetzung wirklich sinnbringender, zielführender, innovativer Digital Business Ideen hinterherhinkt, hat den Anwensenden hoffentlich ein wenig zu denken gegeben. Denn obwohl es den Vorträgen ein wenig am roten Faden einerseits und den konkret angreifbaren, den “coolen”, den wirklich “digitalen”, Bespielen mangelte, so muss man Confare doch das Kompliment machen, dass die #Digitalize 2015 das erste Sinn bringende Event zum Thema war.

 

P.S.: Und als i-Tüpfelchen auf alles war es eine Freude, Josef Broukal endlich wieder einmal als Moderator eines derartigen Events erleben zu dürfen!

 

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What is “trending” – anyway?

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

The report “Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies” – every year’s desperately expected Gartner report about what’s trending in IT – has been out now for a few weeks. Time to bend over it and analyze the most important messages:

1. Evolution

Gartner continues to categorize technologies on the hype cycle by their model of “business eras” (see my post about last year’s Hype Cycle for more details on that). The technologies analyzed for this year’s report are claimed to belong to the last 3 stages of this model: “Digital Marketing”, “Digital Business” and “Autonomous”. Little has changed within the most important technologies supporting these changes:

  • “Internet of Things” is still on its peak
  • “Wearable User Interfaces” has obviously been exchanged by just the term “Wearables” (which makes total sense)
  • “Speech-to-Speech Translation” has advanced beyond its peak
  • “Autonomous Vehicles” is probably the currently most-hyped area around Digital Business

2. Revolution

However, there’s a significant change in the world of technologies to be seen this year: While the plateau of productivity was pretty crowded last year with all sorts of 3D, Analytics and Social stuff (like streams, e.g.), this year’s Hype Cycle doesn’t show much in that area. Which actually proves nothing less than us living in an era of major disruption. Formerly hyped technologies like “Cloud” have vanished from the graph – they’ve become commodity. New stuff like all-things digital, “Cryptocurrencies” or “Machine Learning” are still far from any maturity. So, it’s a great time for re-shaping IT – let’s go for it!

Still, besides that, there remain some questions:

  • Why is “Hybrid Cloud” not moving forward, while “Cloud” is long gone from the Hype Cycle and CIOs are mainly – according to experience with my customers – looking for adopting cloud in a hybrid way? Is there still too little offer from the vendors? Are IT architects still not able to consume hybrid cloud models in a sufficiently significant way? Personally, I suspect “Hybrid” to have further advanced towards productivity than is claimed here; it’s just not that much talked about.
  • Why has Gartner secretly dropped “Software Defined Anything” (it was seen on the rise last year)? All that can be found on this year’s Hype Cycle is “Software-Defined Security”. While I agree, that in low-level infrastructure design the trend of software-defining components co-addresses important aspects of security, “Software-Defined Anything” has a much broader breadth into how IT will be changed in the next couple of years by programmers of any kind and languages of many sorts.
  • IoT Platforms has been introduced newly. With a 5-10 years adoption time? Really? Gartner, i know businesses working on that right now; I know vendors shaping their portfolio into this direction at awesome pace. I doubt this timeframe thoroughly.

3. and More

What’s, though, really important with this year’s Hype Cycle is the concentration of technologies that address “biology” in any sense. Look at the rising edge of the graph and collect what’s hyped there. We got:

  • Brain Computer Interface
  • Human Augmentation
  • 3D Bioprinting Systems
  • Biochips
  • or Bioacoustic Sensing

Not to mention “Smart Robots” and “Connected Homes” … Technologies like these will shape our future life. And it cannot be overestimated how drastically this change will affect us all – even if many of these technologies are still seen with a 5-10 years adoption time until they reach production maturity (however: it wouldn’t be the first time that a timeframe on the Hype Cycle need revision after a year of increased insight).

 

While reading a lot of comments on the Hype Cycle these days, I also fell upon “the five most over-hyped technologies” on venturebeat.com: The author, Chris O’Brien, takes a humorous view on some of the “peaked” technologies on the graph (Autonomous vehicles, self-service Analytics, IoT, Speech-to-speech translation and Machine Learning) – and shares a couple of really useful arguments on why the respective technologies will not be adopted that fast.

I can agree with most of O’Brien’s arguments – however: while some of the things-based stuff invented might be of limited applicability or use (connected forks? huh?), the overall meaningfulness of what “Digital Business” will bring to us all is beyond doubt. The question – as so often before – is not whether we’ll use all that new stuff to come, but whether we’ll be educated enough to use it to our benefit … ?

If you got questions and opinions of your own on that – or if you can answer some of my questions above – please, drop a comment! 🙂

The input for this post, the “Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” is published in the Gartner Newsroom

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Digital Business Trends – Erste Veranstaltung der neuen APA-Reihe

{Im Bild die Teilnehmer an der Podiumsdiskussion der DBT-Veranstaltung “Health Gadgets”, 29.01.2015, Haus der Musik}

 

Gestern, Donnerstag, fand im Haus der Musik die erste Abendveranstaltung der neuen APA-Eventreihe “Digital Business Trends” zum Thema “Health Gadgets” statt. Die Diskussions- und Netzwerkveranstaltungen werden gemeinsam mit Styria Digital One organisiert und von namhaften österreichischen IT(-nahen) Unternehmen gesponsert.

Dem Charakter nach der bereits seit den frühen 00er-Jahren bekannten APA-eBusiness-Community nachempfunden, folgte auch diesmal einem Impulsvortrag zum Thema eine Podiumsdiskussion, abgerundet durch – diesmal sehr intensive – Publikumsbeteiligung.

Und der Grundtenor der verschiedenen Meinungen war für mich besonders in zwei Aspekten neu:

1. Sicherheit und Datenschutz

Selbstredend, dass in einer Diskussion, in der es im Wesentlichen um das Messen, Sammeln und Bereitstellen von Daten durch Gadgets geht, die Frage des Schutzes dieser Daten irgendwann gestellt wird. Florian Schumacher, Vortragender und Experte am Podium, nahm jedoch dem Thema sofort die sonst in derartigen Diskussionen so übliche Tragweite, in dem er feststellte, dass das permanente Hinterfragen des Schutzes der Daten ein Innovations-Inhibitor sei. Die Haltung der Menschen würde sich zunehmend dahingehend verändern, dass sie bereitwillig ihre Daten diversen Systemen anvertrauen, weil sie den persönlichen Vorteil deren Nutzbarmachung erkennen und spüren könnten.

Während also bisher in Trend-Veranstaltung das Gros der Anwesenden seinen Ausweg aus der Unwissenheit über den diskutierten Trend oftmals in einer Art “Panikmache” über den Verlust von Datenschutz- und Kontrolle nahm, schwenkten diesmal die Mehrheit der Meinungen auf die Linie: “Meine Daten werden durch die Verknüpfung mit geeigneten Diensten und Dienstleistungen zu einem nützlichen Werkzeug für mich selbst.”

Die genannten Beispiele dazu blieben zwar – gewissermaßen – noch in den Kinderschuhen stecken (im Wesentlichen drehten sie sich um innovative Prämienmodelle von Versicherungen oder Gesundheits-Diagnosesysteme), aber der Trend hin zu einem offeneren Umgang mit persönlichen Daten – innerhalb ethischer Grenzen – war durchaus ablesbar. Ein positives Novum, also.

2. Geschäftsmodelle

Mehrheitlich blieb die Diskussion beim “Coolness”-Faktor und der persönlichen Daten-“Auswertung” der besprochenen Gadgets stecken. Das greift meiner (und manch anderer Diskussionsteilnehmer) Meinung nach bei weitem zu kurz: Am Ende wird ein Hype dann zum Trend, wenn Einzelne oder Mehrere daraus Nutzen und letztendlich Geschäft machen können. Den Nutzen von Health-Gadgets dadurch zu rechtfertigen, dass Einzelpersonen auf einem Web-Portal ihre eigenen Daten mit sich selbst vergleichen können, definiert noch kein Geschäftsmodell. Ebensowenig – wenn auch mit mehr Rechtfertigung – tut das der Effekt der Selbstmotivation.

Schon nachvollziehbarer ist da der Ansatz, dass Versicherungen Prämiennachlässe auf Basis von Daten gewähren könnten, die einen gesunden Lebensstil nachweisen (der ethische Hintergrund eines solchen Vorgehens, der durchaus auch mehrfach angesprochen wurde, sei hier für den Moment mal dahingestellt), oder ärztliche Diagnosen durch Online-Diagnosesysteme ersetzt oder zumindest unterstützt werden könnten.

Während der zitierte Ansatz von Versicherungen sicherlich eines der nachvollziehbarsten und möglicherweise auch nahe-liegendsten Geschäftsmodelle werden könnte, blieb es sonst in dieser Frage eher dünn, und ich denke, dass Health Gadgets im momentanen Hype-Status stecken bleiben werden, wenn Dienstleistungs-Unternehmen, Plattformen und/oder Hersteller nicht mehr Umsatz-Möglichkeiten finden, als den Verkauf von Armbändern, Uhren, Broschen oder – vielleicht bald – Implantaten.

Eine der wohl interessantesten Ansätze kam von Eugenius Kaniusas (TU Wien), der mehrfach in der Diskussion meinte, dass das vergleichen von Zahlen (Puls- und Blutwerte, Schrittanzahl, oder Indexwerte für Fitness, etc.) zwar eine nette “Spielerei” für den Endverbraucher sei, aber am Ende doch wenig inhaltlichen Mehrwert böte, weil ja Sinn und Konsequenz der Werte und ihrer Veränderung dem medizinisch Fachfremden verborgen blieben. Wirklich Nutzen entstünde erst durch eine alltagstaugliche Übersetzung der gesammelten Information. Plattformen müssten geschaffen werden, die für gesammelte Daten geeignete kontextuelle Interpretation und Übersetzung anböten.

In Anbetracht der großen Anzahl an Menschen, die mit medizinischen Befunden schon so ihre Schwierigkeiten haben, vielleicht in der Tat eine erste verfolgenswerte, über Versicherungs- und Diagnose-Modelle hinausgehende Idee für innovatives Geschäft im Zusammenhang mit Health-Gadgets …

 

Update:

  • Link zur Presseaussendung
  • Link zur Fotogalerie

 

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The Big Data Evolution (updated)

In 1969 (the year I was born), an 8″ floppy disc by IBM was able to capture 80 KB (or 80 * 1024 = 81.920 byte). Only IBM could write to it; for “normal” people it was read-only.

In 1976, an 5,25″ single-side floppy disc could store 110 KB (112.640 byte); in 1984 it had made it to double-side and high-density with the famous capacity of 1.200 KB (or 1.228.800 byte).

The 3,5″ double-density classic appeared in the same year. Unforgettable its epic storage capacity of 720k (or 737.280 bytes). It took until 1987 for the high-density brother to come up with 1.440 KB (1.474.560 byte). MS DOS needed 3 of those floppy discs. My Amiga computer back then still worked with DD types of 880k and all of my private data in 1990 when I seriously started to program fitted onto only 1 of those little HD wonders.

I do not really recall the tape drive era; however I recall that guy responsible for source control in our projects in the office back then who could watch flying sheets of paper in Windows Explorer for hours when he backuped our VSS database (probably onto 2,4 GB – 2.516.582.400 byte – Sony tape).

More or less at the same time I discovered the tremendiously brilliant invention of the IoMega Zip Drive, bought a 100MB (104.857.600 byte) type of it and was utterly happy to be able to do backups of not only all of my private data but also all of my source code of one project onto just one disc.

And just when I had purchased the second Zip Drive for a – then – reasonable price in order to be able to carry data between home and office without carrying a drive, our company had ordered the first CD RW writer – an epic piece made by — ? not sure ? — Plextor, I think. What I however do remember clearly is an audio CD project which I did in that time, using the utterly famous “Feurio!“. For an 8th grade school class I sampled English songs with strong lyrics like “Free Electric Band” or “Me and Bobby McGee” for their English lesson and as a school’s-out present. I think I destroyed like 20 raw discs before getting 13 working ones 😉

It was 1997++ and there were the 74 and the 80 minute CD-RWs. 74 equalled to around 640 MB (671.088.640 byte) and 80 equalled to 700 MB which by “overburning” could be extended to 730 MB (765.460.480 byte) sometimes – involving the risk that the target drive couldn’t read it anymore.

It was in those years that I started backing up my data onto disc around once a year (incl. some transfer of some very old projects from the early 90ies) and the backups captured from 1995 until 2010 hold 159.666 files or 40,3 GB (43.363.611.776 byte) of data – which is

  • 57 times the 80 minute CD
  • 414 times my Zip Drive
  • 28.408 times the 3,5″ HD
  • and 529.341 times the 8″ floppy disc

Which is still a ridicolously little amount of data compared to a 59,- EUR 1TB (1.099.511.627.776 byte) external HDD or my 800,- EUR 4-bay 6 TB Raid-5 NAS (6.597.069.766.656 byte).

One Windows Azure Storage Account has a limited capacity of 200 TB (219.902.325.555.200 byte) – which obviously is still quite small compared to the overall data storage capacity of all Azure data centers worldwide. And facebook is reported to hold the equivalent of over 100 PB (112.589.990.684.262.400 byte) of data while its more than a billion users utilize 7 PB of foto storage each and every month only.

Which means, that in 45 years time the storage used by a private person for private reasons has increased by a factor of more than 96 billion!

I just do hope this isn’t all food and cat pics.


Update:

I’ve just purchased a MiniSD for my mobile. 16GB at the size of a fingernail (0,3″ roughly or 5,7% the size of a 5,25″ floppy disk). It cost EUR 7,70. I digged out the price of a 5,25″ double-side high-density; according to my records that was about EUR 0,17 back in 1995. Which equals a price drop per Gigabyte by more than 99% throughout those years … Gives an interesting twist to the quote “this is worth nothing anymore” …

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: Digital Transformation

Beware! No. 7 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series is probably going to be at the heart of all the big business disruptions to come:

 

“Digital Business”

as a term has more or less become a substitute for the formerly heavily stressed “Industry 4.0”. Digital Business can best be described by a couple of examples illustrating how every business – without exception – will be disrupted by the huge innovative potential rolling along:

Example No. 1 – Retail and Education

School notifies the parents of a boy that he needs a certain educative material by tomorrow; they do that by means of a private message to the parents coming from the school’s facebook profile. The boy’s mother investigates through her mobile phone where the particular material can be purchased, connects to the store chain by means of a mobile app and requests availability information. The store responds with availability and price (through their app) also informs that the particular item has to be sent from a remote outlet and requests confirmation for the purchase and delivery. The mother responds with payment data and the school’s address for target delivery whereas the store chain triggers delivery of the item to the nearest train station, notifies the train operating company that a parcel needs to be delivered by tomorrow to the respective address whereas the train company in turn arranges for delivery to take place to the school’s nearest train station and from there by a drone directly to the school.

Example No. 2 – Weather and Insurance

A terrible thunderstorm destroys a house’s window. The respective sensors thoroughly detect the reason for the breakage of glass not to be from human intervention but from bad weather conditions and notifies the smart home automation gateway of what has happened. The gateway holds police, hospital and insurance contact information as well as necessary private customer IDs. Location address is derived via GPS positioning. The gateway self-triggers a notification and remediation workflow with the insurance company, which in turn assesses the incident to be a valid insurance case, triggers a repair order with an associated window glassworks company. The glassworks company fits the order into their schedule as it is treated an emergency under the given circumstances, rushes to the given location, repairs the windows, the workers report back to the insurance via mobile app and the insurance closes the case. All this happens without any human intervention other than final approval by the house’s owner that everything is OK again.

Example No. 3 – Holiday and Healthcare

The wearable body control device of an elderly lady records asynchronous heartbeat also slowly decelerating. The pattern is maintained within the device as being a situation of life endangering heart condition, hence the device commences transfer of detailed health monitoring data via the lady’s mobile phone to her children on the one hand and to her doctor in charge on the other hand. Both parties have (by means of device configuration) agreed to confirm the reception of data within 5 minutes after start of transmission. As none of this happens (because the kids are on holiday and the doctor is busy doing surgery) the device triggers notification of the nearest ambulance, transmits the patterns of normal health condition plus current condition and includes name, location, health insurance and nearest relatives data as well as the electronic apartment access key. The ambulance’s customer request system notifies the doctor in charge as well as the lady’s children that they’re taking over the case, an ambulance rushes to location, personal opens via mobile phone using the received electronic key, finds the lady breathing short and saves her life by commencing respective treatment immediately.

Fictious?

Well – maybe, today. But technology for all this is available and business models around it have begun to mature.

What these examples show – besides that they all encompass the integration of Things with several or all aspects of the Nexus of Forces discussed earlier in this article series – is an aspect essential to understanding “Digital Business” and that immense digitalization of our daily life: “Digital Business” is nothing else than the seamless (mean it;. literally: s-e-a-m-l-e-s-s) connection of humans, businesses and things (as in the IoT definition). “Digital Business” is a merger of physical and digital worlds!

In turn, this means plain simply, that there will be no business whatsoever that goes without software. Businesses already penetrated by software will experience increasing software, automation and integration challenges and businesses that haven’t yet introduced software into their models will face an increased challenge doing so, as well as to integrate with the digital world around them. Essentially for nothing else than just for staying in business.

 

{the 8th issue of this blog post series covers a way to approach all those challenges through creating a true services ecosystem for the enterprise; and as it’s the last it also wraps up and concludes}

{feature image found on http://marketingland.com/}

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: Discussing The Thing

Opening chapter No. 6 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series by discussing the Internet of Things!

What’s essentially so entirely new about the Internet of Things? Things are not. Connectivity and protocols might be – but not entirely. Mastering the data produced by things – well: we’ve discussed that bit in one of the earlier posts of this series.

What’s really entirely new is the speed of adoption that the topic now reaches; and this speed is based on the possibilities that technology innovation have begun to offer to new things-based ecosystems.

In order to understand that, one has to judge the elements of a things-based architecture. While the article “Understanding the IoT Landscape” offers a quite comprehensive simplified IoT architecture, I would tend to be a little more detailed in assessing the elements of a functioning IoT ecosystem:

Architecture building blocks in an IoT Ecosystem

Figure: Architecture building blocks in an IoT Ecosystem

  1. The Thing itself. The variety of what a “Thing” may be is vast: medical human wearable monitoring devices (e.g. heart monitor), medical measurement devices (such as a diabetes meter), sensors, transmitters and alert devices in automated cars, smart home automation sensors, fitness wearables or simply watches that take over several of the above capabilities at once, … and many more things that aren’t even invented or thought of yet (the aforementioned article gives a decent list of what Things could possibly be). Discussing implementation architectures for the Thing itself would exceed the scope of this article by far, obviously.
  2. The Thing’s UI: This is already an interestingly ambiguous architecture element. Do Things have UIs? Yes, they do. Sometimes only comprised of one or a few LEDs or the-like of it. They could, of course, also have none at all if in case interfacing with a Thing’s user is delegated to either a mobile phone or a gateway which the Thing is connected to.
  3. Thing Connectivity and Communication Layer: The purpose of which is solely to bridge the gap between the Thing itself and the first connectivity point capable of transferring data through well-established protocols. Thing Connectivity may sometimes be reached through WiFi but often also by just using Bluetooth or any other wireless near field communication protocols.
  4. Thing Gateway: Rarely will Things directly feed data into any backend analytics or application layer; simply because it is too costly and complicated to accomplishing high performant, secure and reliable data connection based on proprietary protocols over long connectivity routes. Hence, we’ll often see some kind of gateway being introduced with the Thing which in simple cases could just be a mobile phone.
  5. Data Store: By whatever way Things might be leveraged by the business’s backend IT, we will always see a data collection and storage layer introduced to directly capture and provide Thing data for further compute, analysis and application integration.
  6. Application Integration: One essential topic to consider when introducing Things into business models is to envision an application landscape around the Thing in order to offer app-based Thing interaction to the end consumer as well as information from Things and their usage to the Thing’s business plus to third-party consumers in order to drive cross-business integration. New cross-enterprise business models will evolve anyway – the better Things-centered businesses allow for integration and orchestration, the better they will be able to leverage and let others leverage their disruptive innovations.
  7. Analytics: No Thing-based business – no Things introduction – will make any sense without creating the ability to leverage the information produced for analysis and even more for prediction or even prescription. We will see more of that in the next section of the article.

The impact to IT when discussing the change through IoT cannot be overestimated. Just by assessing the layers described above it does become obvious that we will see quite a lot of new architectural approaches evolve which in turn need to be integrated with existing IT landscapes. Also – as with all the more recent disruptions in enterprise IT – the orchestration of different services maturing in the “Things” space will be key for IT organizations to offer utmost business value when leveraging the Internet of Things.

 

{No. 7 of this blog post series will cover “Digitalization” and “Digital Transformation” – and what it really means to any business}

{feature image borrowed from the IoT wikipedia article}

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: #Mobile Everywhere

{this is No. 4 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series, which discusses the revolution to come through ongoing innovation in IT and the challenges involved with’em}

 

I would be interested in getting to know, how many readers of this series still know a person not owning a smartphone? (I do, by the way ;))

Even though I have written several times about the danger of it and how important it is to consider behaviour for a healthy adoption of “Mobile Everywhere” (e.g. in “Switch Offor “3 importances for a self-aware social networker) I am still a strong believer in the advantages that elaborate mobile technology brings into day-2-day life.

Not only do mobile phone technology and mobile app ecosystems add significant value to the other two forces (data and social) but additionally they’ve meanwhile “learned” to make vast use of them. You could actually describe a stacked model of this bond of disruptive technologies which are discussed in this series in a way that

  • data is the back-end business layer of the future
  • social platforms are the middleware to bring together information offers and information needs
  • and mobile technology is the front end to support information and data consumption in both ways

The image below turns the “Nexus”-model from the beginning of this series into a stack appearance:

 

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

 

Which – essentially – closes the loop with why we do see a bond of not only the technologies in mobility, social media and data and analytics but even more the visions, strategies and concepts of these three. Needless to say, therefore, that businesses who have a strong strategy and vision around the Nexus of Forces and – at the same time – are backed by a strong Service Orchestration roadmap will be the winners of the “race of embrace” of this bond.

Now, thinking of the Pioneers, which I’ve started this blog series with, I recall that one could see all forms of leveraging the aforementioned concepts in the ideas of the startups presenting there. And – unsurprisingly to me – not a single moment during those 2 festival days back in October this year, “Cloud” was even mentioned, let alone discussed. It is no topic anymore. Period.

However, there’s more: The Nexus of Forces as such is only the beginning of a path leading into the next industrial revolution and we’re already well under way. Hence, this blog series will continue discussing concepts and challenges which build upon the Nexus of Forces and takes it to the next level with change to come for each and every enterprise – software-based, hardware-based or not even technology-based at all.

 

{No. 5 of this blog post series takes the first step into “Industry 4.0” and related disruptive topics}

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Technology adoption curve from a different angle

We all know that old, famous Gauss distribution curve representing the lifecycle of how new technology and innovation is adopted by the industry:

Technology Adoption Life-Cycle

Technology Adoption Life-Cycle (found at http://infrae.com/)

 

Later, a guy – Geoffrey Moore – adapted it introducing the chasm, arguably a very strong gap between the visionaries and the pragmatists (I found an interesting interview with the author on Forbes):

http://whiteafrican.com/2008/05/12/crossing-the-mapping-chasm/

Crossing the Chasm – Moore, 1991 (found at http://whiteafrican.com/)

In a recent twitter chat with my friend from old Canopy times, Ricky El-Qasem, he shared his representation of that Gauss curve – which, i believe, should be used as of now as a substitution to the trillion others (just for the sheep in it ;)):

Ricky El'Qasem Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Ricky El’Qasem Technology Adoption Lifecycle (shared by @rickyelqasem)

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