Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2014. Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed article by Kevin Goodman, CEO, FSLogix
This is the year for DaaS! Or is it?
I'm starting off my 2014 predictions like I do every year, by
calling the Atlanta Braves as the winners of the World Series. Eventually I'll be right, like the last time
they won in 1995, and when I do I'd like to have it in print somewhere. I was going to make a prediction about
Bitcoin at $800, but over the last month I've already been right, and wrong,
and right and wrong several times.
Virtual currencies will take a greater place of prominence as to how we
conduct business in 2014, but they are far from mature technologies. They will hopefully undergo some pretty
serious transitions before becoming a regular part of everyday life. If you think the DOW and NASDAQ roller
coasters are exciting, invest in a virtual currency that drops 40% on a Friday
and recovers it by Monday afternoon. I
hope that's not what the future looks like.
Every so often someone will write an article about the state
of computing and we'll all take a moment to marvel that there is more computing
power in a wristwatch than was used to send the first men to the moon in the
1960s, but even those observations that were once startling are now seemingly
passé. Let's just assume computing power
will increase and storage cost will decrease this year as they have every year
since the early 1950's.
Technology advancements by themselves are not what I'm
looking for when I think about the future.
Having more technology in a greeting card than we used to land the lunar
module isn't changing our lives the same way landing a man on the moon
did. Look at the magnitude of that
historical achievement we accomplished with technology that seems so rudimentary
today. We've had unbelievable innovation
in the last 40 years, and even in the last 4 years, but so much of it remains
shelfware compared to how it could be used to change the way we work and
live. Think of the time lag between the
invention of the steam engine and hundreds of years later when steam power
transformed the landscape of commerce and travel, and became an everyday part
of our culture, a backdrop for crime novels and romantic trips along the
coast. The invention of a technology and
the advent of it's transformative power can still be separated by decades, even
when it seems like they are close enough for us to reach out and touch.
In the late 1990's, Traver Gruen-Kennedy was responsible for
making the term "Application Service Provider" (ASP) one of the most used words
in the media, probably beaten only by "Y2K."
Since Y2K was predicting the end of the world as we knew it, this was a
fairly stunning accomplishment. For
those of us who had been in IT for many years, ASP seemed like a positive
return to the past. Instead of becoming
your own PC tech, running applications locally, and becoming responsible for
the backup, recovery and security of your data, ASP promised the benefits of
old-school mainframes; having everything centralized in a protected data center
and managed by experts, but built on and delivering the very
latest in technology.
In this new ASP "hosted" view of the world (or what we used
to call "outsourced") you'd get the benefit of the latest technology, like a
graphical UI and multimedia, all behaving as if it were running locally on a PC. The vast wealth of information and computing
power on the Internet would be combined with low cost, ubiquitous access
devices that would be available anywhere, to anyone, without having to manage
the technology yourself. In the late
90s, after finally having convinced the world that we should all have our own
PC, it seemed for a moment absurd. Why
carry around a PC when you can access one in the cloud? After all, I didn't have to have 20
satellites on my roof and a production studio in my garage to get 200 cable
channels. I didn't have to "install" the
Superbowl on my neighbors TV to watch it at their house. Jean Luc Picard didn't carry a PC, he carried
some kind of commodity tablet or sat at a terminal and accessed an artificial
intelligence based information library.
You never saw an IT person in the background trying to fix Picard's
terminal, and he didn't spend 50% of his time installing applications and
security patches. The Captain of the Enterprise
just researched, learned, achieved, and contributed. How close were we to that? It seemed pretty close. Not quite Star Trek, but a good start.
It was all coming together; faster, cheaper, and more
reliable connectivity, robust wireless, faster processors, thin client devices,
and commodity storage; everything we needed to change the way the world worked. No more time spent troubleshooting your PC,
installing applications or downloading Windows updates. The power of the cloud at your fingertips,
using any device, from a simple Kindle to an ultra-thin and lightweight laptop
shell - sleek and simple access devices connecting you to the world of tomorrow.
That was 15 years
ASP lasted a short time while competing with nearly
identical models in Hosted Computing, Server Based Computing, and even Thin
Client Computing, championed by remote computing leaders like Wyse Technology. In parallel we had web based applications and
the launch of Software-as-a-Service.
Then Utility Computing, advances in grid computing, Everything-as-a-Service,
and Cloud Computing. The concepts stayed
the same, but the names changed every couple of years. More recently this same idea has been driven
by mobile technology and Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD). We have all bought into the notion that
everything should be available as a service, managed somewhere else, and we
just plug in and consume it. We all
believe it because it's so close we can touch it. We've seen it on TV for 60 years and we have
pieces of it all around us. We know
intuitively that our children will not build vast libraries of LPs, or even
vast libraries of locally stored MP3s, but instead will stream all of their
music on demand. But as of today I still
can't get rid of my laptop.
In Larry Ellison's famous rant, when asked if Oracle was
concerned about Cloud Computing hurting his business, he said, "Sure, if cloud
computing doesn't need the internet, databases, or software, we're really in
trouble." He then mused that Cloud
Computing is the technology media's buzzword of the day, used to explain what
we've already been doing for 15 years.
I'm paraphrasing, but I believe he said it's our version of the Fashion
Industry's "mauve" which last year was "dusty rose." Yes, we have been doing this for years. Most of it.
But I still can't get rid of my laptop.
In 1998 we had some real technology issues. Storage was not cheap. Processing power was not plentiful. Computing in the cloud could probably be done, but
it hadn't been commercialized yet.
Connectivity needed to get faster, Starbucks and Motel 6 needed to add
Wi-Fi to every location, and it would be nice to have it on the plane. You also needed an internet connection over
the cell network. This was already
possible, but not broadly commercialized.
Last month I saw the Youtube ad for United Airlines promising
connectivity on international flights, even over the ocean. It seems to me that all this work has been
done, but I still can't get rid of my laptop.
In 2005, Friedman wrote the book, "The World is Flat,"
talking about the impact of globalization and ubiquitous computing. Freidman even made the profound assertion
that the next Einstein might already be living in a rural setting in a
third-world country, waiting for a free mobile terminal (courtesy of the UN) so
they could log into the Internet and changing the world. It seemed so obvious then, and it seemed like
we were already there, on the cusp, about to be living the dream.
That was 9 years ago.
Every year we've predicted this ASP-Desktop-as-a-Service
world, where my computing lives somewhere else and I connect to it through some
something simple, like my TV or my wristwatch, and every year we take more baby
steps toward the vision. I'm reminded of
the quote from the Groucho Marx movie where the female star says, "Closer,
closer, hold me closer..." to which Marx replies, "If I hold you any closer I'll
be behind you." How much closer do we
need to get before it's here? I can use
a wireless keyboard with my TV in my living room, and connect to my PC at work,
or a cloud desktop at a DaaS MSP, but we're still just starting down this
road. People have to understand far too
much of the underlying technology for this to become widespread, so we can move
into the next phase, and see the real advantages in the world around us. Remember that Einstein is waiting, possibly a
few of them.
I can't think of something that's been declared come and gone before it's even gotten
here more times than DaaS has, but in 2013 DaaS and ASP hit some cool new milestones. VMware acquired Desktone, the premier DaaS
provider with the name that reminds us that computing should be like dial
tone, automatic, and everywhere (although a trouble thought is that the
next generation of IT might have grown up without dial tone). Amazon launched their cloud based desktop
service. Let me say that again, "Amazon
launched their cloud based desktop service."
Amazon is like the Henry Ford of technology, taking complex, one-off
products and putting them on an assembly line so they can get out to the everyman. Should this be one of those milestones when
we just realize, "Ok, it's here now."
Even Brian Madden has predicted 2014 the Year of DaaS, but is it?
Perception and our own lagging bias are partly to
blame. Of course the only thing really
stopping DaaS is us. Perhaps a soft
economy will push us into this new model, or the lowered forecast of PC sales
will drive the need to leverage DaaS and reuse and recycle more of the stuff we
already bought? I predict that whenever
it finally happens, it will be quick. It
will be like the final leg of the transition from Beta, to VHS, to DVD, to
Blu-Ray, to streaming. Netflix was added
to Blu-Ray players and seemingly overnight the brick and mortar video rental
industry just vaporized. I predict that one day I will wake up and realize that I
haven't installed any software locally in a long time, and that my desktop
service is a part of my phone bill. Will
it be this year?
Over a peppermint spiced latte last week I talked about DaaS
with a friend who voiced concern over information security and how DaaS would
force the move of their critical data to the cloud. As we talked it became clear that their CRM data
has already been in the cloud for years, payroll is cloud based, email is externally
hosted, this year HR is moving to a cloud app, along with expense
reporting. For at least 5 years they've
had a lot of their code written at an offshore facility using Amazon EC3, the
same hosted service where most of their customer facing production servers run.
"So what data do you even still have on premise?" I asked.
After an uncomfortable silence we refilled our cups, and the discussion
turned to the prospect of the Braves in the World Series. "This is the year," I said, and we both
nodded in agreement.
About the Author
A veteran in the software industry for over twenty years, Goodman has
had successful management roles in a number of private and publicly
held high-tech companies including RTO Software, VMware and DCA.
Goodman is the author of two books published by M&T Publishing –
Windows NT: A Developer’s Guide, and Building Windows 95 Applications,
and has been a frequent contributor to several computer industry
magazines. Goodman has also been awarded four patents.