May 15, 2007

IT and the Edge of the Network

My new work situation brought up an old debate with a good friend (perhaps good debate with an old friend? Works either way I suppose... but I digress): future topology of data and computing models on the network.

Or to put it another way: where do the leaf nodes connect to the edge of the network? Locally, in the home as a gateway for experience (or CPE in my new lingua franca) or remotely, that is, "directly" to remote applications and data stores.

This was/is partially a "client side computing" debate - where and how are performance, security, and storage best optimized.

But the observation at the end of it was this: The world only needs 6 servers arguments are currently in vogue (with consumers, who speak with their time), because, well, IT management sucks. To wit, allow me to posit: It is easier (i.e. better) to use remote applications with remote data for most users because it pushes the information management pain to professionals.

In order of "pain in the ass to maintain": Windows, Mac, Cell phone... not un-coincendentally, also a measure of how closed the software and hardware eco-systems are, in practice. Game consoles are particularly interesting in this regard (I'm rating them as easier than cel even), as everything but the VERY top layers of the stack are single sourced - sounds suspiciously like the RIA platform arguments, no?

(And all the User Access Controls in Vista, and installation hurdles for Apollo only argue against the edge being at the desktop for most applications...)

78 comments:

Michaela said...

Funny you should post this. Soon after your job announcement, Om posted this http://gigaom.com/2007/05/08/comcast-goes-web/ The Rise of the Stupid Network was sort of a telco thing, but it makes for interesting reading. I don't agree with all of it (my Mom certainly doesn't want to piece together her phone service), but when you consider the Internet vs. the US mobile network, he does have a point. http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/stupidnet.html

Hope all's well with the new job

Sree Kotay said...

Interesting reading (particularly the Stupid Network), and I pretty much completely agree.

But, (a) I think the whoever makes services management easier will win, and (b) I don't agree with the premise that Comcast is trying to build a smart network, at least, not as David Isenberg suggests.

Binding services (exclusively) to the network (wired or otherwise) is a losing proposition. I'd say Comcast is trying to use its network presence as leverage for audience, but to build services that are valuable beyond its footprint.

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