Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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IBM came out with their latest "5 in 5". These are five predictions for technologies that will havean impact over the next five years, summarized on 5 pages. Before I give my take on this year's set,here is a quick recap of[Last Year's 5 in 5]:
3-D representations of the human body to improve health care
This prediction is based on the idea that most medical mistakes result from lack of informationabout the patient. A 3-D avatar of the patient would allow the doctor to click on the section ofthe body, and this would trigger retrieval of patient records, relevant X-rays, MRI images, and so on.For example, IBM System Storage Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) provides the storage that wouldallow any doctor to access these records, even if the image was taken at a different facility.
Unfortunately, this prediction only applies to patients who can actually afford to see a doctor. Apparently,no amount of technology, no matter how cool it is, can convince governments to make health care somethingeveryone has access to. Michael Moore has done a good job explaining this in his film documentary [Sicko].
Digital passport for food
Using RFID tags and second generation barcodes, you will have access to details of a food's origin,transportation conditions, and impact to the environment. Much of this information is already gathered,just not stored in a database accessible to the consumer.
Last year, the term "locavore" was the2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary, referring to people who limit what they eatto food produced within a certain radius, from family farms and locally-owned businesses.Here is an excerpt from a [Locavores] website:
Our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates. This globalization of the food supply has serious consequences for the environment, our health, our communities and our tastebuds.
Certainly, I am all for selling storage capacity to the food industry to help store vasts amount ofinformation for this, and certainly some people will be able to make smarter decisions based on thisinformation. This is not the first time this idea came up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced [nutrition labeling requirements] on thehope that people would choose more healthier foods. Despite this, people still opt for white bread, iceberg lettuce, and processed meats, so possibly having more information about where food comes from, and how it was transported, may not mean much to some consumers.
Technology to manage your own carbon footprint
"Smart energy" technologies allow you to walk the talk, by managing your own carbon footprint inyour home. For example, if you forgot to turn off the heat or air conditioner before leaving thehouse on your commute to work, your home would call your mobile phone, so that you can turn aroundand go back and correct that mistake. Better yet, IBM is working with others to provide web-enabledelectric meters that would allow you to turn off systems from work or cell phone browser.
Of course, such technology already exists for the data center. IBM Systems Director Active EnergyManager (AEM) allows you to monitor the actual usage of your servers and storage devices, and insome cases make adjustments to control energy consumption. This can feed into the IBM TivoliUsage and Accounting Manager software to incorporate energy usage as part of the charge-backcalculations. See the [IBM Press Release] formore details.
Cars that drive themselves
Not only will cars that drive themselves reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents, it canalso help reduce congestion in big cities, by routing traffic to different directions, based onGPS and presence-aware technologies. Stockholm (Sweden) has already reduced peak hour traffic by 20 percentusing this approach.
While I admire the concept, cars are perhaps the least energy-efficient mode of transportation.Often, a family can only afford a single vehicle, and it is purchased based on the worst-case scenario.A friend of mine has only two children, but a sever-person mini-van that gets only 17 MPG. Why suchan energy-inefficient vehicle? Because she occasionally drives her daughter and her friends tosoccer practice, and that represents the worst-case scenario, minimizing the parent/child ratio. Theother 99 percent of the time, she is driving by herself, or with one child, and consuming a lot ofgasoline in the process.
A better approach would be to find technology that connects airports, trains, buses and light rail forpublic transportation to greatly reduce the need to drive a car in the first place.
The idea that a family can have only one vehicle plays in the storage arena as well. Larger companiescan afford to have different storage for different workloads. The IBM System Storage DS8000 high-end disk system for their large OLTP anddatabase workloads, an XIV Nextra for their Web 2.0 storage needs, DR550 to hold their compliance data,and so on. Smaller companies are often tasked to find a single solution for all their needs, andfor them, IBM offers the IBM System Storage N series, providing a "unified storage" platform.
Increased dependence on cell phones
Before the cell phone, the last don't-leave-home-without-it technology most of us carried was the credit card. Now, IBM predicts that we will be even more dependent on our cell phones, becoming our banker, ticket broker, and shopping buddy.For example, you could use your cell phone to take a picture of a shirt at the mall, and it will then show you what youwould look like wearing that shirt, on a 3-D avatar representation of yourself, or perhaps your spouse, and getinformation on what discounts are available, or where else the shirt is being offered.
None of this example actually uses the "phone" part of the cell phone, however the cell phone is one device thatnearly everyone carries, so it becomes the development platform for all other technologies to be based on.
The common theme running through these is that it can be helpful to store more information than we do today,provided we make it accessible to the people who need it to make better decisions.
Christopher Carfi on his Social Customer Manifesto blog has a great post[Let's Look at the Big Picture]that talks about Information as the new form of "money" by looking at how the concept of "money" wasfirst formed 150 years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Lesson 1: "Money" was very fragmented for a very long period of time after the colonization of North America
"Money" as we think of it in the form of cash/paper currency has only been around for about 150 years. Over a period of almost two hundred years both before and after that time, a number of fragmented methods were used to exchange value.
Lesson 2: Everybody needs to win
After the ideas of "cash" and "checks" had taken hold and become widespread, there were still many inefficiencies in the system. Cash is cumbersome, and subject to loss. Checks may bounce. This continued until the mid-1900's.
Enter the credit card.*
The credit card resonated with both customers and vendors because both parties received benefits.
Now, the widespread usage of credit cards was not something the occurred overnight. Instead, it was something that occurred over a generation. In 1970, only 16% of American households had credit cards. However, by 1995, that number had climbed to 65%.
We are now looking at Information in much the same way. It is fragmented, it is used to represent value, it is hoarded by some, shared by others. In much that "brown" is the new "black", does that mean "information" is the new"money"?
A related blog post from Shawn over at Anecdote discusses a panelist discussion of Albert Camus' work,The Stranger. Here is an excerpt:
... meaning is not pre-inscribed in the world around us and we are continuously seeking meaning in an inherently meaningless world. I almost toppled off the step machine. Do we live in an inherently meaningless world? On first thought I think the answer is yes. The onus is on us to make sense of our world.
And here is where information, by itself, is not of value unless people place value on it. Just as people valued Wampum and Furs, and could therefore trade it for other goods, people trade information for other itemsof value. But the onus is on us to make sense of the information, to determine the meaning of it, and use thisto help drive business or other accomplishments.
Are you leveraging information as well as investors leverage other people's money? If not, IBM can help.
Yesterday's announcement that IBM had acquired XIV to offer storage for Web 2.0 applicationsprompted a lot of discussion in both the media and the blogosphere. Several indicated thatit was about time that one of the major vendors stepped forward to provide this, and it madesense that IBM, the leader in storage hardware marketshare, would be the first. Others were perhaps confused on what is unique with Web 2.0 applications. What has changed?
I'll use this graphic to help explain how we have transitioned through three eras of storage.
The first era: Server-centric
In the 1950s, IBM introduced both tape and disk systems into a very server-centric environment.Dumb terminals and dumb storage devices were managed entirely by the brains inside the server.These machines were designed for Online Transaction Processing (OLTP), everywhere from bookingflights on airlines to handling financial transfers.
The second era: Network-centric
In the 1980s and 1990s, dumb terminals were replaced with smarter workstations and personalcomputers; and dumb storage were replaced with smarter storage controllers. Local Area Networks (LANs)and Storage Area Networks (SANs) allowed more cooperative processing between users, servers andstorage. However, servers maintained their role as gatekeepers. Users had to go through aspecific server or server cluster to access the storage they had access to. These servers continuedtheir role in OLTP, but also manage informational databases, file sharing and web serving.
The third era: Information-centric
Today, we are entering a third era. Servers are no longer the gatekeepers. Smart workstationsand personal computers are now supplemented with even more intelligent handheld devices, Blackberryand iPhones, for example. Storage is more intelligent too, with some being able to offer file sharingand web serving directly, without the need of an intervening server. The roles of servers have changed,from gatekeepers, to ones that focuses on crunching the numbers, and making information presentableand useful.
Here is where Web 2.0 applications, digital media and archives fits in. These are focused on unstructured data that don't require relational database management systems. So long as the useris authorized, subscribed and/or has made the appropriate payment, she can access the information. With the appropriate schemes in place, information can now be mashed-up in a variety of ways, combined with other information that can render insights and help drive new innovations.
Of course, we will still have databases and online transaction processing to book our flights andtransfer our funds, but this new era brings in new requirements for information storage, and newarchitectures that help optimize this new approach.