The End of Corporate Computing – Rubbish!

WaterIn this article Nicholas Carr describes the “End of Corporate Computing” and justifies as follows:

Three technological advances are enabling this change: virtualization, grid computing and Web services. Virtualization erases the differences between proprietary computing platforms, enabling applications designed to run on one operating system to be deployed elsewhere. Grid computing allows large numbers of hardware components, such as servers or disk drives, to effectively act as a single device, pooling their capacity and allocating it automatically to different jobs. Web services standardize the interfaces between applications, turning them into modules that can be assembled and disassembled easily.

I don’t see it this way at all for the following reasons:

  • Corporate computing is about people, employees, customers, suppliers etc and their interactions.  None of these people think of computing as Virtualised Servers, Storage, Grids etc.  These are the utilities that corporate computing runs upon, not the essence of Corporate Computing.  This analogy is like saying the end of corporate heating and lighting, just because electricity is supplied by a utility.
  • Slightly closer to the truth is the part concerning Web Services, but again he looses me when he says “modules that can be assembled and disassembled easily”,  surely this assembly and disassembly is Corporate Computing!
  • Then there are two key Corporate roles,  the modelling of processes and the orchestration of multiple components to execute them, and the ability to add value at the edge through extracting, combining and analysing information from multiple places in creative and unique ways.

Closer to the mark is this observation:

The resulting industry will likely have three major components. At the center will be the IT utilities themselves — big companies that will maintain core computing resources in central plants and distribute them to end users. Serving the utilities will be a diverse array of component suppliers — the makers of computers, storage units, networking gear, operating and utility software, and applications. And finally, large network operators will maintain the ultrahigh-capacity data-communication lines needed for the system to work.

Here he is talking about the way the IT utility supply industry will organise, and it looks about right, for the type of computing that this model will suit.

Finally he gets it right:

IT’s shift from an in-house capital asset to a centralized utility service will overturn strategic and operating assumptions, alter industrial economics, upset markets and pose daunting challenges to every user and vendor. The history of the commercial application of IT has been characterized by astounding leaps, but nothing that has come before — not even the introduction of the personal computer or the opening of the Internet — will match the upheaval that lies just over the horizon.

But this is not the end of Corporate Computing, it is an evolution of Corporate Computing, allowing it to focus on the activities that add value, rather than those that can be commiditized and delivered as utilities.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Nick Carr has, as with his earlier article IT Doesn’t Matter, overstated his case here too. Business software often automates complex and firm-specific business processes, and does not easily lend itself to centralization with a utility supplier. It is difficult to imagine a car factory carrying out its manufacturing planning or control thru a subscribed utility, or an investment bank performing securities analysis on a vendor’s computer sitting hundreds of miles away.

    The author’s vision may, however be seen as providing a general direction in which computing will evolve. Utility computing may gain traction over the next few years for applications that are not highly firm-specific, where business-criticality and security requirements are low, and where speed of response is not highly material.

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