Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Things!

The analysts at Gartner Group love to do nothing more than forecast what will transpire in coming years. For the most part they aren’t ever too wide of the mark and in the latest Top 5 predictions lies at least one interesting observation …

As much as I enjoy living in America, there’s much about Australia that I miss. Although these days, with satellite TV, I can watch The Great Race beemed live from the country town of Bathurst and keep up with all the games played in the World Cup. Not that world cup, but The World Cup and where yes, the southern hemisphere continues to dominate. I’m talking about the just completed Rugby World Cup where New Zealand was able to finally win just their second series after many frustrating losses.

However, I do a little more than just watch TV and my iPad gives me a good selection of Australian newspapers to read with my morning Starbucks. And then there’s always my good friend Len Rust who diligently puts out an IT-newsletter, The Rust Report. Len is a former VP for Asia Pacific of IDC, the industry research company that tracks who moved what and who bought that! When I lived in Australia there were many occasions where I ran across Len and at industry events and conferences we would always find time to catch up. Back in 2009, the last time I was in Sydney, we caught up over coffee only to observe that through the years, so little had changed.

In an issue of The Rust Report I received before I left for Italy and Croatia, there was a research note that pulled from recent announcements from Gartner, Inc. This time, Gartner was listing its Top 5 strategic technologies for 2012 and what made the list was rather interesting. And the list includes thoughts and observations already made to this blog. Firstly though, as Len pointed out, what Gartner considers as strategic technology is something “with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.”

What made it to the Top 5?

Media Tablets and Beyond
Mobile-Centric Applications and Interfaces
Contextual and Social User Experience
Internet of Things (IoT)
App Stores and Marketplaces

Pulling a few words from this list such as tablets, mobility, social user experience and the app store and you have a mosaic that includes many of the themes already addressed in this blog but I have to admit, when I began reading about the Internet of Things a lot of images came to mind. I have just spent several days in Venice and with free time these past few afternoons, I have had the opportunity to window shop and to check out the things on display – the famous Venetian masks, glassware and paintings – with one particular mask looking like it might be the go and there’s plenty of time left. And yes, they are attractive and the product of highly skilled people. However, I do know what they are – but things? When it comes to the world of IT, this seemed just a tad too vague for my tastes.

However, behind IoT is the concept that we are increasingly observing and probably can be best summarized with the words I pulled from my usually reliable source, Wiki. “If all objects of daily life were equipped with radio tags, they could be identified and inventoried by computers (and) with all objects in the world equipped with minuscule identifying devices, daily life on Earth would undergo a transformation. Companies would not run out of stock or waste products, as all involved parties would know exactly which products are required (or have been) consumed.”

Putting aside for one moment the whole issue of Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and how it is finding acceptance but when you start to consider just how networked the world has already become, you cannot help thinking that with simple technologies, there’s even more that will be networking in the future! It’s a modern world, after all where our daily lives will undergo transformation. As for the transaction processing required, it will be enormous, and the data will be highly valued by many companies. And there really aren’t any limits or boundaries when it comes to things – they’re everywhere with more appearing daily!

comForte executive, Thomas Gloerfeld, who heads marketing and who has spent time recently with many of his colleagues, reminded me of how “at the time we acquired Client Server Link (CSL), we realized that for many users, modernization would be best served if the back-end platform was left untouched. Few companies were prepared, for instance, to simply throw-away Pathway and all the mission-critical business logic it supported. But now, with the upsurge in tablets and smart phones and the potential for even more to come – the whole world demanding things everywhere be accessible – comForte will increasingly turn to its flagship modernization product, CSL, for even more ways to support client access.”

There are movies and TV shows featuring views of the present and near future that push the boundaries somewhat – the movie In Time being one of them as well as the TV series Person of Interest. What remains constant however is that yes, things will be tracked managed and disposed of – all in the interests of broadening markets. And for the NonStop community with our knowledge of running systems 7 X 24, this bodes well for an ever-increasing presence on the leading edge of technology.

Modernization has a ways to go but even now, the Internet of Things is just one example as to why it’s important all the critical frameworks and tools are in place. After all, there really aren’t any limits to our imaginations when we seriously start to think of just how many things with which we absolutely must connect!


  1. I think the main idea behind RFID is better inventory control with the idea that it will lower cost of doing business (in businesses that already operate on very thin margins). As such, I imagine the companies adopting the approach will want to spend as little as possible on the computer systems needed to implement RFID technology. Unless a NonStop system to do that work can be offered at the same (or even less) cost than a typical "industry-standard server", I have a feeling NonStop won't see any of that business.

    The individual transactions involved are not of very high value, so I expect that the system designers won't pay any premium at all to ensure that they won't lose any of them. My guess is that they will lose a small percentage of the transactions, anyway, because the RFID tags themselves won't be 100% reliable, and the RFID readers, even if working properly, will regularly miss a small percentage of the items due to electrical interference or just weak signals. So it won't be a big deal to the system designers if the computer system also loses a few of the transactions. Hence I don't see any reason they would pay any premium to use a NonStop system.

    I don't mean to be unnecessarily pessimistic on this. I just think that the RFID system designers won't see any reason to pay extra for NonStop, so pinning any hopes for RFID applications to support more NonStop sales probably isn't realistic, and we should look elsewhere for applications that would make good matches to NonStop.

    (By the way, the preview for comment posting seems not to be working. I don't know whether you can do anything about that, but I wanted to point it out in case you can.)

  2. Thanks for this - and yes, your comment led to me developing my most recent post that you should see shortly.

    In brief, then I agree with you - RFID's will see traffic arriving on NonStop only after passing through multiple levels of concentration but in the end, the data that is captured will be reflected in a database somewhere and increasingly, I see this impacting NonStop for the better ...

    Again, thanks .... Richard