Continuing on my theme of storage area networking, today I thought I would coverthe concept of convergence. This is the notion of disparate things that come together.
Convergence plays a big role in Apple's new iPhone.ExpatJane has a nicecollection of news articles.Gizmodo has a two part hands-on experience of the iPhone hereand here. Seth Godin opines that theiPhone is not for everyone.
I would fall into the "not for me" category, at least at this time. The iPhone is GSM-capable phone with the ability to store 4GB or 8GB of music, photos and video, and has incorporated a 2 megapixel camera. Currently, I have separate components:
- A cell phone that is GSM plus CDMA, with features like "speakerphone" which I use quite a lot, but NO camera.
- A 7 megapixel camera, also very small, with removable memory cards.
- A 60GB iPod, with music and photos. My model is older and doesn't handle videos.
Since I visit government agencies, research and development labs, and other places that don't allow cameras, I have to either chose a cell phone that does not have camera capability in it, or have a camera phone that I leave behind in the car or at the front desk. I have chosen to get cell phones with NO camera. So, NOT having a camera is a primary feature I look for, but this is getting harder and harder these days. I don't know if Apple plans to have a non-camera version of their iPhone, but that would be a deal-breaker for me.
I do carry a separate camera, and where it is permissible, use it separately. This is especially useful if you do a lot of whiteboard or flipchart presentations, and want to capture what you have written for later. (For a great example of how effectively whiteboards can be used, check out these videos from UPS.)A picture is worth a thousand words, and is easier to convey an idea with pictures, especially in countries that may not speak English. Last month, I got a 7 megapixel camera to replace my 5 megapixel. For my work, 2 megapixel as found in the iPhone is not detailed enough.
As for my iPod, I enjoy that I can carry 60GB of music and photos. When I go on vacations, I can bring my camera and iPod, and connect the two, transferring and viewing the pictures that I take. I can easily free up 5-10 GB of space on my iPod for photos in preparation for a trip, then replace that with music when I am back at home. I also use my iPod as a remote disk drive for my laptop on business trips. Again, the 4GB and 8GB may not be enough for what I need.
Printers were never converged into Personal Computers, but they did have their own convergence. I have a multi-function printer/scanner/fax machine. I used to have separate printer, scanner and fax machines, but now the technology is so inexpensive that it got all combined into one solution.
The same is happening for Storage Area Networking gear.
- Thanks to Fibre Channel, switches and directors can handle both SCSI commands (FCP) and CCW commands (FICON). This allows the mainframe and distrbuted systems to converge their traffic onto a single network, and is less expensive than trying to maintain one network for the mainframes, and another for the distributed platforms.
- On the SCSI side, there are now switches that let you have pluggable ports of different flavors. For example, you can have some ports be Fibre Channel to receive FCP, and other ports to be Ethernet to carry iSCSI. iSCSI is a protocol co-developed between IBM and Cisco to carry SCSI commands over Ethernet. Since most computers already have Ethernet "network interface cards" and most buildings are already wired with an Ethernet infrastructure, this provides a less expensive alternative to Fibre Channel.
- Routers, and combination Router/Switches, can send all the FCP/FICON/iSCSI traffic over various long distances to remote data centers, using either iFCP or FCIP protocols. This is a less expensive alternative to dropping your own private "dark fiber" between the two locations, which often involves negotiating access rights to dig trenches through other people's property.
Which brings me back to Apple's iPhone. One device can make calls, watch video, and download webpages all because the networks have converged into sending all data in "packets". The network just routes packets from one place to another. It doesn't care that a packet is a voice packet, a video packet or a webpage packet. It doesn't matter.
This convergence then lets the convenience of a handheld device serve as the conduit for doing business, potentially replacing the credit card.IBM helped Visa and Nokia join forces to use cell phones as wallets. According to the article...
"Users can pay for groceries and other purchases by swiping a phone over a reader that electronically communicates with a microchip on the phone. Phone owners confirm the purchase with the push of a button and the deal is complete.
The platform is the result of many years of trials around the world and will enable mobile contactless payments, remote payments, person-to-person payments, and mobile coupons."
Now that's convergence I can get excited about!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, Apple, iPhone, GSM, CDMA, iPod, UPS, whiteboard, FCP, FICON, SCSI, iSCSI, Ethernet, iFCP, FCIP, dark fiber, Visa, Nokia, Cisco , convergence