Connectivity and the push for total uptime

Two recent articles may point, I think, to the convergence of two apparently unrelated topics.  The first article was written by Google guys, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, and published in Foreign Affairs back in the 2010 November/December issue.  Titled, Digital Disruption: Connectivity and the Diffusion of Power, it posits that due to the ubiquity of connection technology, this century will be full of challenges and surprises for governments, media, and corporations around the globe.  I’ll paraphrase but basically, the genie of information is out of the bottle and containing it will prove to be almost impossible.  This presents both tremendous opportunities for human advancement and significant challenges for how we govern ourselves.  They wrote the article just before Wikileaks hit the front pages to, in part, prove their point.

The second article by Randall Stross was published last week on January 8 in the New York Times and discusses why the fabled five 9s of enterprise computing (which translates to only 5.26 minutes of downtime per year) will probably never come true.  For those of us who’ve worked in IT for the last 20 years or so, the five 9s was a cliche like shooting for the moon.   We knew we could never afford to build, nor were we sophisticated enough in our processes to support, the redundancy necessary to enable such extremely available systems.  Now it seems even Google agrees and they state that four 9s (52.56 minutes of downtime per year) is their goal.

So where is the convergence, you might be asking.  If Nicholas Carr is right when he equates the future of computing delivery with electricity, then shouldn’t five 9s be what we expect and demand as consumers?  Electricity in most developed areas of the world rarely ever goes down at all, for the entire year.  Enough redundancy is built into the supply infrastructure to ensure that when we plug an appliance into an outlet or when we flip on a light, we get what we expect, power.  If universal connectivity is truly upon us, if more communication and social media applications like Facebook and Twitter continue to crop up, then it seems logical that we can anticipate computing suppliers will figure out how to deliver the services virtually all the time (five 9s).   It’s clear to me that one is driving the other.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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