If you arrive for IBM Connect on Sunday, you’re late. There has already been a flurry of activity from great 2-hour Jumpstart sessions that dive deeper into topics that other sessions during the week won’t have time to do; to the chance to visit the product showcase Sunday evening where it isn’t competing with your time networking and attending sessions. As a business partner, the Sunday BP-focused sessions have been a wealth of info on how to better inform customers.
The diversity of the conference is actually quite refreshing. It’s not all just about Lotus Notes. Sessions covering Connections, Sametime, SmartCloud, Mobile, Kenexa, real world examples of using it all, and even some amazing Smarter Planet stuff, like a display in the center of the product showcase demonstrating how it can gather and distribute traffic data between cars in an area. With such a diversity in sessions, you can’t complain if you feel pigeon-holed with no opportunity to learn new things.
For all the talk about communicating and collaborating via computing (mobile, tablet, PC) in more natural ways, the underlying tone is cloud computing. It permeates everything. With so much focus on IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, at this point there is no longer any doubt in my mind that computing power has become the next utility.
What do I mean? For comparison, go back in time to the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. When a business built a factory, they also built a power plant to supply it with energy. Then along came the notion of creating large power plants and a network of power lines that would supply electricity to every household. Then, these businesses realized they could also tap into that grid for supplemental power and eventually get all of their power from it without ever building their own power source. Electricity as a Utility was born.
Jump ahead 100 years. Businesses are building large data centers to house and manage their computing power needs. This is the beginning of the Information Revolution. Then along comes this network called The Internet. It connects households to computer resources and “information suppliers”. Then businesses realized they could also tap into that grid and now there is a movement to get their computing power from Cloud Computing providers like IBM, Amazon, RackSpace, and Google. If history repeats itself, as I fully predict, the day will come in the very near future when data centers at corporations will all but vanish.
The one small, but significant difference is that information, unlike electricity, is not just consumed. It is also created and stored, almost like houses that have solar panels which are wired to “sell” their surplus back to the power company. This distinction is the wild card that adds complexity to this otherwise close parallel. What do you think?