Friday, July 25, 2008

IT in 2018: From Turing’s Machine to the Computing Cloud

How will the IT landscape look like in 2018? This is the question asked by Nicholas Carr, the author of "The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google". He takes readers of this free eBook on a trip one decade into the future to see how IT as we know it will change and what those changes mean for IT professionals, hardware and software vendors, and corporations of all sizes.

This interesting journey starts at 1936 in Cambridge where Alan Turing has invented the idea of the universal computing machine.

"With enough memory and enough speed, Turing’s work implies, a single computer could be programmed, with software code, to do all the work that is today done by all the other physical computers in the world.

And that is why the modern corporate data center, with all its complex and expensive stacks of machinery, is on the path to obsolescence."

Carr clearly explains the current hot virtualization and consolidation trend:

"Turing’s discovery that “software can always be substituted for hardware” lies at the heart of “virtualization,” which is the technology underpinning the great consolidation wave now reshaping big-company IT. As the cost of computing power and storage capacity has continued its decades-long freefall, it’s become possible to turn more and more hardware into software code – to use a single powerful computer to run many virtual machines.

All the pieces of hardware stuffed into corporate data centers – not just servers but storage drives, load balancers, firewalls, switches, and even the cables connecting the gear – exist, after all, to carry out instructions. Virtualization simply turns the hardwired instructions into code and gets rid of the physical machinery. That not only saves a lot of cash, it makes the radical automation of formerly manual IT processes possible. Once IT infrastructure turns into software, it can be programmed, easily and from afar. Code, as always, replaces labor. "

Check out his eBook to take the journey to the conclusion:

"Just as the last century’s electric utilities spurred the development of thousands of new consumer appliances and services, so the new computing utilities will shake up many markets and open myriad opportunities for innovation. Harnessing the power of the computing grid may be the great enterprise of the twenty-first century."