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Data: Imagine a world where you are a long-running transaction
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By Brian Lang,
Program Director - Enterprise Networking Solutions.
The IBM Strategy as defined in the 2013 Annual Report is focused on three key items: Data. Cloud. Engagement.
I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about data and really focus on how access to that data is important for one of our products: the IBM Communication Server.
But first, there are some really mind-blowing statistics out there about data. Like 80+% of the data that's ever been created has been produced in the last five years. And that number is going to continue to rise. As IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty indicated, data is the new natural resource. So much of that data is now unstructured vs. structured, and yet it's a vast vein of potential just waiting to be tapped. Businesses that need to compete are working to figure out how to analyze data to make their own revenue. Businesses that started out brick-and-mortar and transitioned to e-business in the late ‘90s are now looking to transition again, to tap into the data they have and the data they're gathering—every second of the day—to further their profitability.
Now consider Communication Server. From our web site: “Communication Server is a family of scalable, high-performance servers that provide a communications gateway to the internet or company intranet. This comprehensive package of enterprise networking solutions enables connectivity across multiprotocol networks. Designed specifically to exchange information and data electronically, Communications Server is based on industry standards for a wide range of platforms.”
In summary: Comm Server touches every transaction, every message, every query. For instance, every time someone needs data from the mainframe, we're involved. Why is that important? Well, in a world where more and more data is being created, where it's being accessed more readily, by more people, at any second of the day, then the conduit to that data needs to be reliable, secure and fast.
Now let's take a tiny step into the future. Let's pick two years. Many of you today can look down at your wrist and find a health tracker. Whether it's a Fitbit, Jawbone, GearFit or other, these little doo-dads are becoming all the rage. I've begun looking into one for myself, but the technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that picking when to jump in and buy one is daunting. Will the one I pick be obsolete next week?
Heck, given the SportsHack at Impact 2014 that’s focused on wearable tech, it’s possible that what’s coming out in a couple months will be obsolete as it hits the street!
But every time I look at the list of what's available, I find a list of others that are coming in the next couple of months with even more features. And what do those features do? They collect more data. They analyze that data and feed it back to the wearer. And two years from now, when almost everyone has one of these, the amount of data being collected, collated, analyzed, stored, etc. is going to be very large indeed. How important do you think that might be to a business that's looking to the future?Let me ask it this way. Today, 9 out of every 10 banks in the world use a mainframe. They keep information about you: your SSN, your account numbers, your transactions, your balance. Your money. An important part of your life. Now think about a company keeping a different set of information about you: your heart rate, your blood pressure, your location, your calorie intake. Where do we as consumers want that data to reside? Just anywhere, or somewhere where we can get to it reliably, quickly... and securely?
Let's take it a step further. Let's go 5+ years into the future. Consider, for example, Google Glass. There is quite a bit of controversy around this technology, but let's not kid ourselves. The technology is coming. Whether it's as bulky as these first sets of glasses or whether it advances to a point where the camera is as small as a pin (and therefore you can't really tell if the person you're interacting with is wearing it), it is a fascinating technology. Why take a few snapshots and load only the ones you like to your favorite social site when you can record an entire event and do the same? And why record just an event when you could record your entire day? And why stop at a day? You can see where this is headed. Let's assume that 5+ years down the road that Glass or something like it takes off. Now the data that's being recorded is streaming. You could, for instance, use these to record extended periods of your life. You want a scenario that will fill a 40GB pipe? That's one.
Now let's go further. Let's imagine a world where you're no longer wearing tech, it's embedded. Imagine a world where you are a long-running transaction. From the moment you embed the tech, you are connected, creating new data. Data that can be analyzed to help you live a healthier life, to keep you out of trouble, and undoubtedly to help you buy stuff. :-) So, you're a long running transaction, and along the way you're producing micro-transactions. And every one of those is a data point.
Consider it a Life Bank, full of your experiences, your interactions, your curiosities. Sound like transaction, messages and queries?
We as consumers want our SSN/account/money stored in a safe, secure, accessible location. We demand reliability and security. That's why 9 out of every 10 banks put their data on a mainframe, and why Comm Server dedicates so much investment in ensuring those consumer requirements are met. Now consider a Life Bank, where potentially every moment of your life is stored, accessible for you to pull out and view or share at your leisure. Crazy? Thirty years ago the idea of the Internet was likely crazy. If you can read the signs of where the technology is headed, then this path isn't that far-fetched. But to the question: if every moment of your life was available to you, where would you want that data stored?
The mainframe has so many advantages, be it a robust virtualization technology, the ability to provide enhanced analytics or its security features. And we’re investing in new technology every day to ensure that wherever technology leads, the mainframe is capable of participating. Key new announcements such as zConnect will ensure access to your data when you need it.
The mainframe turned 50 years young last week, and one of the greatest quotes I heard was from Tom Rosamilia, the Senior Vice President of IBM Systems & Technology Group. Tom said—and I’m paraphrasing here—“This isn't 50 year old technology. The technology you get in the hardware and software that shipped in 2013 is less than 18 months old." And so as we look at where technology is headed, and the type of data that technology will produce, and the requirements consumers and businesses will have on how that data can be analyzed and used, we must realize the very critical role the mainframe will have.
If data is the natural resource, then Comm Server is the pipeline to that resource.