IBM’s On-Demand World

IBM’s Sam Palmisano outlined his view of the coming era in computing. Writes WSJ:

In IBM’s view, the business and technology industries are entering a new era called “on-demand.” In this era, companies will have to respond rapidly to customers’ demands, market opportunities and external threats. To do that, Mr. Palmisano said it will require technology that is based on open standards, can easily be integrated, and can identify and fix problems itself. According to the executive, this new model will save companies money and will reduce the complexity of systems.

Adds on IBM’s USD 10 billion investment being made into on-demand computing: “[Palmisano] described a future in which huge computer networks are made up of powerful, self-repairing machines. Ultimately, IBM foresees that the combination of these networks and other advances such as grid computing will allow businesses to buy computing power on demand, similar to the way electricity is purchased….In IBM’s vision, on-demand networks will rapidly adjust to spikes in usage or to disasters such as fires or floods to keep businesses up and running. They will use standards to maintain interoperability between different varieties of hardware and software, and they will offer customers more flexibility in payment and in choosing services rendered. Companies in such an environment, Palmisano said, could contract with an outside partner and, say, pay by the month for a financial accounting system rather than maintaining it in-house. IBM says that by adopting the on-demand concept, customers could save money and gain competitive advantage by gaining access to more responsive computing capabilities.”

TECH TALK: Technology’s Next Markets: The Software Edge (Part 2)

Tech Talk: Lets talk next about Weblogs and RSS.

Deviant Entrepreneur: Weblogs are personal journals. They are a relatively new concept, but really should have come first on the Web! In the early days of the web, we had everyone wanting to create their home pages. The problem was these pages were static and no one really visited them. Weblogs are an extension of oneself and more importantly, ones thinking. They are regularly updated with what the blogger finds interesting. This facet makes them valuable to others because they mine the bloggers brain. In doing so, they capture the tacit knowledge that lies within each of us.

Bloggers do not exist alone. A community of bloggers is needed to create the flow of ideas. Because everyone is writing in their own space and not on a shared, public bulletin board, blogging brings out the best in the individuals and teams.

RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds from blogs and news sites play an enabling role to amplify the information processing ability of people. RSS feeds are an XML and can be processed through news aggregators. By leveraging on publish-subscribe events, they bring updated information to users, rather than making them go from site-to-site seeking out whats new. RSS feeds can also can be used to distribute enterprise events, which can be blogged with comments and then re-distributed as an updated item via the RSS feed.

Thus, Knowledge blogs, or k-logs as they are called, and RSS are instrumental in building out the two-way web, on the Internet and within enterprises.

TT: What about the Digital Dashboard?

DE: The Digital Dashboard brings all the information and applications together on a single screen. It is like the My Yahoo page that we are so familiar with. The difference is that the Dashboard aggregates not just personal but also enterprise information. For many of the new users, the Dashboard will become the de facto desktop. They will not have to worry about all the applications the Dashboard will become the gateway to them. It will also take care of sending out alerts when events take place thus ensuring the last-mile connectivity between information and the individual.

TT: How does Information Visualisation fit in?

DE: Rather than limiting users to the file-folder-directory metaphor for navigation, we can use ideas from information visualisation (especially the world of video games) to create richer and more immersive, experience-oriented worlds. This is where a lot of the plentiful computing power that is becoming available can be leveraged.

TT: You also mentioned about the need for support in local languages.

DE: Yes. The next users are not going to necessarily have English as their primary language. We will need to support all the different languages from Indian languages like Marathi, Bengali and Telugu to Asian languages like Chinese and Thai, to others like Spanish and Portuguese. Multi-lingual support needs to be ingrained into the content and software for tomorrows users.

TT: What are your thoughts on pricing?

DE: Software has to become a service. It has to offered for subscription for the equivalent of USD 2-10 (Rs 100-500) per month for each user. Users should be able to decide what modules they want and pay for them on a need basis. What this does is bring down the up-front investments needed by the users. It also is a recognition of the incremental development that is needed. In this case, software is more akin to a TV soap opera than a film, with new installments being put out regularly and frequently, rather then the big-bang, all-or-nothing approach of a film.

Software is where the real value in the solution will come from. They are the blades, as compared to the computing and WiFi razors. Software development also plays to the unique strengths of the emerging markets. It does not require large investments unlike hardware.

Tomorrow: Making It Happen