The Only Good Technology is No Technology. Now this may sound a bit strange, especially as it comes from a CTO. So let me elaborate. I am suggesting that we are rapidly approaching an era in which technology – of course – does not really disappear, but certainly becomes more invisible. When we no longer realise that we are using complex technology, it liberates us from the urge to understand, build, change and control it.
And it is liberation we desperately need, consumed as many organisations are by an infrastructure that is often complex, heterogeneous, based on legacy solutions and impossible to integrate, let alone manage. In order to create headroom for innovation – both in terms of the budget and in terms of attention span – we must drastically reshape the way we think about infrastructure. We must transform it into a truly Invisible Infostructure: a platform that does not impose itself on us and nevertheless provides us with all the information and services we need to run our business applications.
The Invisible Infostructure – part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2012, much more soon – is not necessarily a new concept. But the actual practice is becoming better and better. When I recently showed a new, ultra-thin laptop (it would not be prudent to mention the brand, suffice to say that it almost floated away through the air) to a client, we mulled over what possibly could be next. We agreed it would be nothing: the final version of a product or concept often integrates seamlessly into its environment, effectively becoming one with it.
I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some convincing examples of Invisible Infostructure, not only to illustrate a point but also because I imagine you have many more suggestions. Please share with us your builds on the following 7 Good Technologies. They may not quite be nothing yet, but they will surely trigger your appetite for invisibility.
1. Intel’s vPro chipset. It enables remote management, diagnostics and security patches on your PC, even if it is turned off or enjoying yet another blue screen extravaganza. It thus significantly reduces the number of desktop visits. Yep, the Only Good Helpdesk People Are No Helpdesk People in this case. Nothing personal, you get the point.
2. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. Scale from one to thousands of virtual servers in minutes, using nothing more than an Internet connection and a few basic web services. Do the same for unlimited storage and robust message queuing. And it is about just as easy as the one click you need to order Gordon Ramsey’s latest bestseller book.
3. DeviceVM’s Splashtop PC. Using an ultra-light Linux variant installed on the motherboard, this PC will have you up and running with just Firefox and Skype in exactly 5 seconds after booting. With such a quick start-up, the only drawback may be that you get to miss these Buddhist moments with your previous PC, generously taking its time to come alive in the morning.
4. Apple’s Time Capsule. We drooled over it before: this wireless device backs up data in – well – an infinitely cool way. The Time Capsule is equipped with up to a terabyte of storage, the newest Wifi technology and a network router. In combination with Time Machine, it performs its backups as non-intrusive as it will get. Unfortunately, the juicy design of this little box does not really help to approach true invisibility.
5. Cisco’s Application Oriented Networking. “Application-fluent networks based on highly distributed, service-oriented and legacy architectures that may operate in a promiscuous mode”: Cisco’s marketing department could probably do with some Yoga classes. But the AON appliance packs all the maddening complexity of SOA, XML, web services, security and business policies in a simple blade box. It’s all in the network, for real. Integration experts and suppliers: this may just as well be the end of life as you know it.
6. Chip PC’s Jack-PC. We always thought it was a metaphor: to have our computing power on tap or out of the wall, like a true utility. But Israel-based computer manufacturer Chip PC took it slightly more serious. Their Jack-PC fits into a standard wall-size socket and is nevertheless a fully functional thin-client computer, including 4 USB slots and connections for mouse, speakers and a display. Firmly mounted in the wall, it will be very hard to steal. And with a power consumption of only 5 watts, this device is virtually invisible to both the eye and the financial administration.
7. Nintendo’s Wii game computer. Instead of joining Microsoft and Sony in the race towards even better graphics and processing power, console maker Nintendo chose a contrary approach. Actually, their Wii is more a denial of a game computer than anything else: the motion-sensitive controller is one of the simplest user interface devices ever created and the games excel in usability, not in pixel density. New extensions include a power glove, a skate board and a fitness mat. And who knows just how invisible this incredible machine may become in the future.
More or better suggestions for a second round of Invisible Infostructure wonders? Share them with us through the comments section!<br