May
20
2011

Pardon me, your platform is shifting

I entered college during the [self-proclaimed] golden years of university education, which is to say shortly after the release of the movie Animal House.  This was a simpler time when the closest thing to a personal computer was the de rigueur TI “pocket” calculator- an outrageously expensive, battery operated plastic device twice the size of a juice box-too big to actually carry in your pocket.  I guess calling it a pouch calculator riled the brand police.  But it was a far easier to use than the mechanical slide rule that the old-school professors continued to carry and certainly more convenient than traipsing over to the basement of the Computer Center – where the Mainframe anchored an entire floor.  With little hype or fanfare, the pocket calculator ushered in a platform shift and even those mathematically challenged like me now had the power to multiply and divide on-demand and un-tethered from the grid.  Life was one big toga party. 

By the time I settled in a SERIOUS JOB, the modern era of computing had progressed to mid-range mini-computers and I found myself programming one, a sweet little HP3000 with (I swear this is true) a touch screen monitor, though the poor thing was still dumb as a box of rocks- truly a waste of a gesture-based interface.   Like Omigod!  Another platform shift slipped by, fer sure.

As the years rolled on and Moore’s Law drove the acceleration of just about everything, many more platform shifts cycled through in a blur of progress:  personal computing, the Internet, web browsers, and the World Wide Web, Google, the list goes on and the disruptive innovation proceeds relentlessly.   The shifts come so fast and frequently, surrounded by so much hype that we hardly blink or understand the implications.  Most recently there has been yet another shift, one with an ascendant quality:  Cloud Computing. 

In a 2008 The Economist article titled Let It Rise, author Ludwig Siegele explains the Cloud Computing phenomenon by way of an exquisite tweet-like history of computing:  “In the beginning computers were human.  Then they took the shape of metal boxes, filling entire rooms before becoming ever smaller and more widespread.  Now they are evaporating altogether and becoming accessible from anywhere.”   

 If Siegele’s description seems a tad ethereal and even immaterial, consider this:  you are in the Cloud whenever you use BusinessIQ.  That’s right, BusinessIQ is Cloud Computing, a business application that is delivered as a service using the Internet.  Your platform has shifted again, in a most powerful and advantageous way.