IoT is pervasive…computing that is…

Long before Kevin Ashton first uttered “The Internet of Things” in 1999, a gentleman named Mark Weiser coined the term “ubiquitous computing” (aka “Pervasive Computing”) in 1988. 

How does this relate to the world of Enterprise IoT?.  I think the Wikipedia entry for ubiquitous computing sums things up fairly clearly:

…The underlying technologies to support ubiquitous computing include the Internet, advanced middleware, operating systems, mobile code, sensors, microprocessors, new I/O and user interfaces, networks, mobile protocols, location and positioning, and new materials.

In the world of pervasive computing, all devices are network connected and constantly available. Throw in cloud computing, smartphones, beacons, aaaaannnnndddd

Sound familiar?

OK, here’s where I stick my neck out…

Short of IoT platforms, which are effectively next generation enterprise middleware, management, and application development tools, there is no such thing as an IoT “Product”.  Whether it’s consumer products marketed as “IoT cameras” or industrial “IoT Sensors”, the “IoT” designation can (and should) be replaced by the word “connected”.  Since any electronic device worth buying must be connected than we can drop that designation all together.  Hence, there is no such thing as an IoT Camera or Industrial IoT sensors…they are cameras and sensors…just as they have been all along.

That is not to say that IoT is not hugely important, it is, I just think some of the most important components are getting lost in the noise.  Here are a few personal observations:

  • IoT is the embodiment of ubiquitous/pervasive computing.
  • IoT is a journey, it is not a destination.
  • IoT is distributed computing on a mass scale. 

And this is important because…

Whoa…where’d that last point come from?

Consider the following. Before Mark Weiser, there was John Gage.  Gage, the twenty-first employee of Sun Microsystems, stated in 1984 that “The Network is the Computer”.  In 2011, Marc Andreeson, co-author of the Mosaic Browser, co-founder of Netscape, and Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, wrote an essay called “Why Software Is Eating The World”

NFV and SDN sit at the confluence of these two prophetic statements. Furthermore, with SDN, the historically closed telecommunications industry is adopting the tools, standards, and best practices that the enterprise has been touting for years.  Enter, NetDevOps.

Enterprise DevOps has broken down walls that have existed between software development and operations to facilitate rapid, development, testing, deployment, etc.  NetDevOps extends those same benefits to network architects and operators, and a software-based approach to networking allows for more dynamic, scalable, manageable, agile, and innovative networks that are required to support Enterprise IoT initiatives.

I’ve never really considered myself much of a techno geek, but as long as this stuff supports a business objective I think it’s pretty cool.

When speaking with some of my more experienced colleagues we often drift into the “what’s old is new again” conversation (e.g. “people think virtualization is new”).  The key difference for me now is that, as an enterprise guy, the telco industry is coming my way…which is kinda cool. For those of us who remember a time when a system outage could be a career limiting event and “cntl-alt-delete” was not an option, these are exciting times for sure.

Now where’s that cocktail napkin?