Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Peter Silva, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Talend Inc., Bob Gourley

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

@ThingsExpo: Article

Plumbing and the Internet of Things

It's Been a Long Odyssey For Us to Get Where We Are. Now What?

A couple of days ago, I noted the fundamental enterprise IT change driven over the past generation by user impatience - nobody likes waiting in line.

We can point to Moore's Law, Metcalf's Law, and a general business trend toward disintermediation and decentralization as well, taking note of the millions of hard-working people all over the world who've been making things faster, better, cheaper, and more effective for several decades.

All of this effort has led to the big change in IT during my career-the invention of plumbing.

Going to the Well
The bad, old way of MIS meant you went to the well to get your water. You visited the wellmaster, er, MIS manager, and hoped your ration, er, report, was ready. Sometimes MIS would bring the water to you, but only if you didn't bug them for it very much.

The minicomputers came, and with them, plumbing. Information flowed in two directions, and more or less when users wanted it. It had moved from the well into several silos, and you needed a different terminal to get at the stuff in each separate silo.

So soon enough, user impatience re-appeared. They wanted several types of information, and they wanted it to be available on their desks, in one place, all the time. In came PCs, approved or not, and forced IS to get better plumbing, usually a miraculous local network called Ethernet.

What Did They Ever Do For Us?
But users are wont to grumble and complain, and as with Monty Python's Biblical revolutionaries asking what the Romans had ever done for them, modern-day computer users didn't appreciate all the plumbing that IS had so graciously provided.

Once the world at large discovered the Internet, then the Worldwide Web, the old ways were doomed. There's been a constant back-and-forth battle for control between IT and users since that time, but modern-day information plumbing-much of it wireless-continues to be this nihilistic force that trumps the most rigorous IT efforts to control the flow.

With the great plumbing afforded by the Internet and Web came the battle to destroy those silos that had replaced the original well. This battle will no doubt continue for many more decades, as each new type of information flow creates new silos.

Constant Battle
Data types are data types, archives are archives, and an enterprise's information-one of its most valuable assets-just can't be tossed around willy nilly, like the records, books, newspapers, magazines, and laundry in my old college dorm room. It must be organized somehow.

Yet user demands for access to any information, anytime, anywhere, on any device are an inexorable force. The nearly 20-year odyssey of today's @CloudExpo @ThingsExpo and everything that goes with the event started with application service providers and web services.

The idea of deconstructing (or decoupling) what applications do from their silos was a profound, radical thought. It was also easier said than done.

Once developers and users started to think of software as a service rather than a product, though, they also started to think about how to measure it. An application is bought in a package or a download; a service is something that comes streaming in as you need it.

Following that thought, why not, then, combine specific services with one another to create a new service? Set theory and a facility for high-level mathematical proofs started to influence the thinking of how best to develop and deliver services.

SOA, Then Cloud
Web services extended into Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and a further decoupling at the hardware level (promulgated by software) brought us into the modern age of cloud computing.

The Internet of Things and Big Data are now possible with cloud computing, now that compute resources can appear infinite and highly flexible.

I wrote a piece once about how this sort of deconstruction was similar to revolutions in 20th century music, art, literature, and philosophy. A friend of mine said at least six people in the world would be interested in my piece-I can now say that, in fact, almost 5,000 people have read it over a time period of only five years. Here it is if you need some sleep.

Whither Plumbing?
Modern-day distributed computing can also be said to be simply a result of a human desire to improve things. It's commonly accepted wisdom that we shouldn't try to re-invent the wheel, but that's exactly what people do.

The ironic consequence of all this is now people have questions about the plumbing. Can the Internet withstand the onslaught of the coming zettabytes? What protocols, specifications, and techniques will be required to keep local information flows as local as possible, so as not to burden the bigger pipes?

We all know that the late Sen. Ted Stevens was right. The Internet is a series of tubes (or pipes), if structured with a little more subtlety and complexity than he articulated.

Now that the plumbing has addressed user impatience and improved user experiences for decades, will it become the bottleneck itself? And will a great concentrations of information among a small number of cloud services providers some day bring us back to having to depend on the well and its keepers for our cyber-survival?

Contact Me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...