Srinivas Reddy’s Weblog

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Convergence

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The single most important development in IT I see unfolding is Convergence. All the innovations that are happening in the hardware and software have this common thread. In this light the recent statement by Chinese premier during his India visit ‘Indian software and Chinese hardware can redefine IT’ has a lot of truth in it.  Innovations happening in Hardware (be it in wireless network gear,  VoIP, increasingly ‘smart’ phones, grid  hardware, multi-core processors, 64 bit computing,……..) and Software (be it in increasingly smart ‘middleware’,  Software as a service model, Increasing breadth and depth of opensource Software,……………).

IT Infrastructure(software and hardware) will even more enrich all human activites  (be it for personal or corporate use).  The next wave of IT driven automation is well on its way. Be it RFID driven supply chain/retail/…  automation or sensor networks driven next generation customer services (be it in health care/ financial services/ entertainment/….).  While the needed infrastructure (or to use the IBM phrase ‘middleware is everywhere’) itself is still emerging, the innovative applications which will leverage the ubiquitous network are the next ‘killer apps’ of a converging IT Infrastructure (be it online multiplayer games, remote health care,..).

As Software developers its imperative for us to understand the implications of convergence.  As Bill Gates put it ‘Mobile Revolution will have much greater impact then the Mainframe and PC revolution we have already seen’. The next ‘Tech Tsunami’ if you like. The IT vendors have been equipping themselves for this battle – be it ‘Centrino’ mobile processors from Intel, smart network devices from Cisco, ‘Applistructure’ from SAP, increasingly mobile centric .NET/J2EE platforms,……..   While convergence will manifest itself in many forms (pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing, wearable computing, SOA,….) it has disruptive implications for consumer and enterprise IT. The emerging market IT consumers have the most to gain from the IT convergence (modern datacenters can be designed with much higher capacity utilisations then legacy systems can dream of,  new innovative business processes can be designed leveraging this,….).  For the benefits of ‘Convegence’ to be real its important  that ‘Service oriented Applications’  be developed that can plugin to different client devices.  Developers must understand the device and network constraints that will be imposed by the infrastructure on applications.  A domain specific process reengineering skills will be needed to identity the product/services that can add real value leveraging convergence.  A lot of end user education and training will be needed for adoption of the next generation IT.

The 3C’s of Convergence are – Conent, Communication & Computing.  We see increasing convergence in these 3 key areas. Content (be it personal or enterprise) is increasingly becoming ubiquitous (be it in ipods/mobiles/xbox/cable tv/…..).  Recently launched interactive TV from BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/digital/tv/) is a sign of things to come.  Any content can be accessed any time at any place, provided the needed computing power is available i.e. client/server hardware/software and networks. The ‘On Demand’ infrastrucutre being pushed by IBM is just about having this computing power available at fingertips (never one which client device you use to access the network) on demand. The obvious thing people do given content and computing power is communicate!.  Be it any form of social networking (weblogs/twiki/chats/newsgroups/…..) or enterprise related collaboration.  Innovations such as VoIP/ wireless networks/… will only make communication that much more easy and efficient.

To try and put things again in the ‘Software Developer’ perspective, what does Covergence mean for us?  On the computing front it means a shift towards a grid based (google like model) On Demand computing model.  The merger and acquisition activity we see in the industry is a reflection of things to come. Industry consolidation is driving the vendors to provide integrated offering by acquiring niche vendors (just check all the companies IBM has purchased in recent times!!).  Expect this trend to continue. Even as computing becomes a commodity it will become increasingly opaque to the end users ( a lot of behind the scenes computing is invovled in mobiles!!). Its in the Content area that we will see a lot of new action (& opportunties).  A lot of killer apps are yet to be invented.  To take a analogy from history, its like when electricity was invented but still no appliances exisit which can actually use it for practical purposes.  Expect a lot of smart computing appliances to be invented on the lines of electrical appliances!!.  Having ‘On Demand’ computing does not make sense if you cant actually put it to good use.  Convergence is going to affect us all,  so lets ride the wave then watch it go by us like the industrial revolution.

While the ‘Road Ahead’ is challenging it surely has a lot of promise for software developers like us :o)   It will need a lot investmet in continious education to track the trends and deepen experstise in core competencies. 

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Written by srinivasreddy

June 3, 2005 at 3:57 am

Posted in Technology

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