Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The sky ahead

Computing revolutions are driven by economic factors. Computers and networks continuously become faster and cheaper. These quantitative changes periodically create qualitative improvements for users and developers.

Personal computer revolution was brought on by dropping prices on microprocessors: individuals could now afford computers. Economies of scale could be used for hardware and software, and the shrink-wrap software industry was born: software became a product.

The Web revolution happened because of faster and cheaper networking. Internet infrastructure exploded, and users could access their data and applications from any place with a Net connection. Developers could deploy the software in minutes to the audience of millions, and software became a service.

What's next? With falling prices on hardware and bandwidth, management costs start to dominate. Many of the problems that today cost hours of human attention and a lot of money are preventable: incompatibilities and interoperability issues, software catastrophes (serious bugs and viruses), hardware catastrophes (lost data due to hard drive crashes).

PCs and the Web will evolve into the Cloud: a collection of computing resources that presents a uniform user experience and minimizes administration costs. Power grid has enormous complexity, but it is all hidden behind the interface of a power outlet: the right interfaces to computing will help simplify it and decrease the total cost of ownership.

Once the management problems go away and the programs can be hosted in the Cloud, the barrier to entry in software field will be dramatically lowered. Given the right tools, the right programming model and the right economic model, the market for small components is going to take off. The line between advanced users and software developers will be erased transforming software into a medium.


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