Complexity of our Devices

I’ve been thinking lately that our devices are getting so complex that we no longer are sure about how to manage, secure or protect them.

My wife’s phone recently went nuts and started flashing the LED for alerts but that setting was not turned on under settings. Another friend’s phone started acting strangely and randomly and the vendor ended up giving him a new device. His phone was an iPhone 6 which is awfully old to be getting a free exchanged unit. My wife’s Apple Watch battery/system was so poor that the battery ran down every day mid-afternoon with everything turned off. She had to charge it twice a day. Apple support said it was within specifications. Right.

Our home networks are vulnerable and we don’t even know what we need to do to harden. Apple TV can support multiple streaming sources, but nothing is simple and they each authenticate differently. We have devices to open our garage doors with who knows what security. What about our cars?

Apple and Steve Jobs used to talk about removing and simplifying. Matthew May writes about subtracting and eloquence in his books (well worth the read).

Unfortunately, companies continue to make things more complicated.

Our ice maker has a light to remind us to clean the filter. I have no idea how to clean the filter.

Connected All The Time

So there is a story on Mashable called The Latest Tool in Medicine? The iPhone which highlights some studies where iPhones are being used to collect data as part of medical studies.

Yes, carrying around a powerful compute device, that you can interface with, that is connected to the mother ship for two way communications might result in some powerful new medical studies, advances, options and ideas. Duh.

It is not really the iPhone, it is the mobile, connected, compute device that people have with them all the time (and won’t leave behind) that is the key here. I love my iPhone, but that is not the advance, it is the connected device connecting to the patient/subject.

There will be huge things coming from this as has been written about elsewhere. Immediate detection of crisis events, more frequent sampling of data in studies, ability to trigger something to happen to the patient (administer something), etc. etc. Lots of things can come from this.

Change

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Seems to me that lots of change is about to happen in corporate IT. There has been chatter for years about everything moving to the cloud and disk drives are dead or everything must be mobile or the like and most of those brash predictions are just nonsense. They might be true in a corner or in a niche or in some limited applications, but in general, they are nonsense. Few things in IT change overnight or even in a year. Many times is takes decades.

WSJ just posted an article about things we’d like to see die (fax machines) and it is mostly about right. The bulky ERP on the list is right and wrong. Yes, we’d like them to go away and magically be in the cloud, which means someone else’s computer, but it just can’t happen quickly for big organizations. The shift to some of these platforms is really, really, really hard.

However, this time it feels like change is happening. Incrementally. Here are some thoughts:

  1. There is going to be turmoil and turnover in applications used and deployed in the coming years. It is likely that apps installed and put into production last year will be replaced by different applications next year. There are new SaaS solutions appearing weekly and some vendors are integrating lots of functions into a suite (ServiceNow, Salesforce.com, WorkDay, etc.).
  2. Data growth will continue with no real slowdown in sight. Storage is cheap and the engineers want to save everything forever. The data scientist types will want the data saved forever too.
  3. Turmoil will continue with hardware and software vendors. The current wave of M&A activity will continue. Suites gobble up small application companies. Infrastructure companies gobble up other infrastructure companies. Others just won’t make it. The hype cycles will continue.
  4. Security or information protection is getting harder. No easy end in sight.
  5. Lots of stress in IT. Do all of the above, spend little or less, keep everything secure and be faster.

What else?

Hardware Foundation Behind Everything

There is an article on HBR called “Does Hardware Even Matter Anymore?” which discusses product development and how new systems/solutions/apps are all software related. It reminded me of 2013 blog post entitled, “Don’t call it ‘the cloud’. Call it ‘someone else’s computer.‘”

I get the abstraction idea in the first article and firms like Google and Salesforce.com deliver amazing capabilities where the hardware is hidden behind the scenes. However, don’t forget that all these amazing systems/solutions/apps are running on hardware behind the scenes (or in your hand). Companies like Google and Salesforce.com lull you into thinking they are software companies, but don’t forget that they are huge hardware companies with data centers located somewhere. Systems/solutions/apps are running on your smartphone (hardware) and then likely connected to some ‘cloud’ systems running on Amazon’s cloud or another ‘cloud’ somewhere else in the world (more hardware).

Servers, storage, networking and related are the backbone behind all these things.

There is hardware somewhere in the stack.