An End to a Cycle

Since the days of the above, the way we interact with computers has moved kind of like the tide. Years after this 30 ton monster got done revolutionizing the science of a postwar US, we moved into a world dominated by big iron. At work was a giant IBM mainframe and at home was…well…nothing. Come on! We’re talking the 50’s-70’s. Sweet headphones was your best bet.

Our computing power was centralized. This is the first age of what we now call “cloud” computing. Every bit of data in one massive repository. A pure era. Perfection. Even the programming code was constructed by pretty much straight up scientists. This was the garden of eden for computing for the human race.

And then……this……

and the great exodus began. Eden was shattered. The march to the edge. Because you know what? That’s freaking cool.

This commenced, and then proceeded nearly uninterrupted, from this point to about 5 years ago. Computing resources steadily flowed more and more into the end point rather than the center.

We may suppose someone asking:

“Why? Why would you move data so far apart? We were in a pure state with all the info nice and snug together. Why would we want to leave the nest?”

To which everyone on earth would respond “Do you see how sexy those pictures above are?!?!”

A massive explosion with what you could do with a computer occurred. Suddenly the accounting department could get a months’ worth of work done in a week, and at home, kids were driving parents crazy with requests for Atari’s and Nintendo’s and Playstations. Some people were writing little logo scripts for a tiny turtle, but we’re not talking about that!

For the decades that followed, more and more data was processed on the ever shrinking box under your desk. The sad carcasses of the central servers stood dumbly in the center, relegated to shuffling around emails and accounting database query responses. Sometimes, when one got really lucky, they got to run a batch job!! Forgotten hulks, in heavily air-conditioned rooms (if they were lucky).

And then…almost completely unobserved by humanity, in 1972 some of the brightest humans on the planet, opted for <python>something, completely different.</python>

ARPANET!!!

(The little internet that could)

And with the creation of this little wonder and some clever conversation protocols, the flow to the edge reversed. Suddenly the horse-blinders were off, and the sound of screeching modem connection strings were ringing.

This slowly, inexorably, brings us back to today. The giant systems back in the data center are suddenly waking up and running applications again. As our science progresses, ever smaller devices are capable of ever increasing feats. All aided by nearly instantaneous communication completely leveling the playing field. We are evolving to the stage where it doesn’t matter where you do your computing. The information simply flows where it needs to be.

So I put before you, that we stand on the precipice of a new age. Suddenly the way you use computers at home is no different from the way you use them at work. Just as you pop onto an app store to grab a useful little widget for your phone, or a hilarious video on youtube, you can pop into your virtual desktop at work, from anywhere in the world. In a moment you can grab whatever app you need in a seamless environment, always at your bidding, anywhere you are.

Suddenly the walls are falling away, and in their wake lies the opportunity to reinvent and reimagine how things should work. The subtle earthquake is already under our feet, but it’s there.

We are coming to a state where the cycle of back and forth between central computing and decentralized computing truly is forming a “cloud” of computing resources that we can draw from, whether at home or at work.

It is one strange case of marketing-speak actually matching reality. We truly are developing in a way that resembles a cloud. Simply a secure, and normally controlled cloud.

This blog is meant to be part exposition of the interesting and the odd that I (and hopefully others), come across as we all begin really adapting to the new environment.

Full disclosure mode engage! I’m a systems engineer type. I’ve worked with what you could call “converged” systems for years now. I see how things are changing in the workplace at nearly the same pace that they change in our homes. Our tools are evolving at an ever astonishing pace.

Suddenly we can allow a single person to maintain and grow a massive number of servers. With the right software it can be done with practically no effort. At the same time, in our homes if we want to hear the latest hot track, or suddenly want to listen again to an old classic, that is a mere 1 minute and 99 cents away at any time. In the sweet living room stereo if you want it.

We now can say, “Hey highly trained college grad! Instead of the boring old company PC, we’ll just give you X amount of money towards whatever hot item you want!”. And in the background a normally stressed out security admin is peacefully snoring in the breakroom, as all the applications and data are delivered in a secured encrypted pocket from which not even light could escape.

There are right now, certain vendors that are rapidly blurring this line, giving companies and consumers, a flexibility and reliability that simply never existed before. There are companies whose sole purpose and passion, is to help businesses be the best at harnessing this change, and the next generation. I happen to work for one of these companies, but I have no doubt, they are everywhere throughout the world.

It’s a truly interesting time that will present many opportunities to those that can see it. Especially in an environment where you need to bring in the best and the brightest, those companies that can make the business life as easy as the home life will thrive.

The cycle is over. The server and the client fought it to a draw and everybody won. There are no more rules about where your computing happens, there is only opportunity in deciding how it happens. It’s just like the Oklahoma land rush. It’s a wide open field to figure out how we work in the future.

Game on

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