The beauty of the virtualized, commoditized world

A story on GigaOM today profiled Simple.tv, essentially a mobile-enabling DVR for those who don’t want to be tied to their physical TV recording device. A quick view of their video shows the real genius that this device brings.

Commodity everything

It uses a commodity signal (antenna or basic digital cable), commodity hardware as storage, commodity wireless and Internet for transport, and commodity screens for presentation (ipad, laptop, Roku). This small, simple box is the substitute for buying anything proprietary, bulky or expensive.

Consider Apple TV and its ability to give Apple everything they need to compete in the entertainment market without taking a big risk with the complicated supply chain of a large-screen device that is highly commoditized. Having the screen isn’t the key at all. Having control of the screen is key and Apple can provide that with their phone or their iPad very easily.

Turning point

This is a direction that can’t be ignored. We’re moving very rapidly to a software-enabled world that makes the hardware less and less important. The same goes for the enterprise. As data explodes, the need to store and process can’t keep up at the hardware level. The secret has become to manage data and processing virtually through software applications that scale horizontally on whatever hardware is available. This is a far more efficient than chasing ever-increasing storage and computing requirements on larger and larger physical assets.

The highest value is found in the logic layer, the ‘what’…the way things are calculated, decided and directed, making the ‘how’ of processing not important. Cloud computing takes this even further by making the ‘where’ not important.

Virtualization

We can now virtualize nearly every aspect of computing, from the computer (a virtual machine), to the memory, storage, data, and network. We’re gradually but surely lessening our reliance on the physical things that require up-front investment, space, cooling, maintenance and eventually become obsolete and must be replaced. We’re breaking the cycle of dependence on the physical and are instead investing more in the logical that costs less and breaks the cycle of obsolescence.

Think about how far we’ve come from the days of “Big Iron“, where the greatest computing advances of that time were replaced fairly quickly by the Windows and Unix-based server farm. Ever since that time, the march has continued away from large, fixed, physical assets and toward the flexibility of virtual software sitting on commodity hardware.

From the failure of Blackberry to the advent of video software that replaces expensive cameras and their ‘locked in board and chip sets, and digital photography over film, there is a trend that is enormously important to follow. We’re in a commoditized hardware and ‘virtualizing software’ world. Anything seems possible.

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Categories: Disruption, Entertainment

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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2 Comments on “The beauty of the virtualized, commoditized world”

  1. October 16, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Jeanne,

    Excellent observation. There is one important ‘commodity’ that you overlooked; enterprise software. Just as the signal, hardware, transport and screen are irrelevant in the Simple.tv example, so too is enterprise software now a commodity. All of the millions invested in implementing an ERP (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.), Best of Breed (WMS, DSD, FS, etc.) and Homegrown software to control the basics of business require on-going investments in maintenance and eventually become obsolete and must be replaced. Their inability to adapt simple, yet powerful, changes to process, data & logic make their obsolescence seemingly part of their implementation.

    BabbleWare has recognized this and taken the Smart.tv approach to enterprise software. We require no changes to the existing enterprise software (legacy). The legacy software does not need to be modified, upgraded or replaced. Instead we leverage their signal (xml, telnet, reports, etc.) to decouple the data and process from their control – speaking their native language so that they can be kept current on what they know. Having decoupled the constraints business can now innovate new processes, add more relevant/required data elements and increase the logic layer to control ” the ‘what’…the way things are calculated, decided and directed”. We commoditize the hardware, transport and screen as well. Our software provides global access to employees, vendors and customers using the browser on any device.

    I apologize for what may be a blatant advertisement. However your points raised are vitally important and enterprise software requires the same power and simplicity that Simple.tv brings us at home. Now the true, secret sauce of every company can be released and entire industries can be disrupted without the cost, risk or disruption legacy systems required and prevented.

    • Jeanne Roué-Taylor
      October 16, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      I’ll forgive your blatant advertisement just because you make a good point that software can be commoditized, too. 🙂

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