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Look Back to Look Forward
I’m often asked how I keep-up to speed in such a fast moving industry. My reply often confuses people: The IT industry isn’t fast moving. People confuse the pace of change in the electronics industry for that of the overall IT industry.
Generally it takes around 10-15 years for a new technology to become main-stream in the IT Industry and often those technologies have an established history much older than that. The two examples which leap of the page at the moment are Linux and Java, both have their roots firmly planted in the very early 1990′s, and both have a history long before that. Linux can trace its heritage back to Andrew Tanenbaum’s Minix and BSD. Indeed, Linux would be little without the raft of BSD utilities and tools that make it an operating system rather than a Kernel, in-turn BSD traces back further to Bell labs and the whole history of UNIX. While we are here it’s also worth remembering that UNIX via BSD/Mach via NeXTSTEP is also is the great grand-father of that cool OS on your Mac. Yep, the OS on your Mac is over 40 years old.
Java, is direct descendant of C++, Smalltalk and other object oriented languages of the ’80′s, there are too many to list! Sure, Java combines this with the idea of a ‘virtual machine’, but in 1978 University of California San Diego (UCSD) had a commercial development platform which allowed you to write Pascal once for a ‘Virtual Machine’ and run on many platforms.
If we take a broader look, all the technology that is main-stream today is a minimum of 10 years old. Virtualisation? VMWare is last millennium and that’s before we consider mainframes, Orchestration and Policy based Service Management? At least 10 years old.
That nice new tablet? Well, Alan Kay has just been waiting since 1968 for the electronics industry to catch-up, so he could build his Dynabook. Along the way we have had the Newton, Psion and a few other valiant efforts all constrained by microelectronics (screen and batteries) until now.
In 2012 however, things might just be different, simply because we have a number of technologies maturing and converging all at the same time across a broad spectrum and for once the microelectronics end of the spectrum is in sync with the IT Services end of the spectrum. For every new channel and device we have a ‘Cloud’ Service. It’s a ‘Perfect Storm’.
Corporate IT will be turned on its head as the native digital generation enters the market place. Traditional pillars of Corporate IT strategy such as DR and Desktop Strategy will become redundant in a world where the corporation is distributed and virtualised in a kind of organic outsourcing. Control of data and ownership of Information will be fundamental.
The theory still holds however, if you want to see what coming next: look back, to look forward, but maybe for few years only looks back 5 years and make sure you look at Social Computing and not just the Industry.Tweet