It's amazing how much you miss (or feel like you miss) when you take a sick day, or have a weekend lengthened by a US holiday during which the rest of the world is working. Imagine both happening in succession -- I returned to the working world Tuesday after a four-day weekend that included a sick day at the beginning and Presidents' Day at the end, and I feel like I missed so much.
When I finished up work last Thursday, I felt comfortable in my knowledge of the information and communications technology world, and the trends shaping it. I'd recently done some research related to enterprise hybrid cloud environments, and that also touched on the virtualization movement and ongoing, seemingly unstoppable bandwidth demand.
When I returned on Tuesday, a bit worn by the flu but having gotten needed rest during a well-placed holiday, a few concepts I previously considered to be further out in the future than in the here and now -- Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, the smart device movement -- seemed to have been moved to a front burner. Is it me, or are we suddenly moving a little faster toward the smart, massively interconnected, next industrial revolution than we were before?
I'm going to do my best to catch up with the conversation, but it is also important to remember that we shouldn't let our ICT visions of the future get too far ahead, too quickly, of our ICT infrastructure reality.
Vision versus reality -- it's the mental argument anyone in any ICT segment struggles with on a daily basis. The future is something we have convinced ourselves we already know a lot about even though it's not here yet, largely because we have the imagination and tools to envision it. But, present reality has its own rules, the ones we need to live by to get through the day.
The ICT vision of the future, an Industrial Internet of Smart Things (to mash up a few buzzwords), remains just that -- a vision. The reality is that we're still dealing with the migration of ICT applications and processes to the cloud, and still trying to figure out virtualization. The current hybrid cloud environment and the to-date partially virtualized enterprise in fact should have taught us a couple of lessons by now.
One: The best way to realize the future is by integrating our visions, however incrementally, with our reality. To take the hybrid cloud example, companies have moved some applications to public and private clouds, but others remain rooted in the hardware-based IT world. An overnight complete migration to the cloud would do many businesses more harm than good.
Two: This ICT evolution must be business-driven. The reality of our business needs has to be the main factor dictating the pace of IT change. The migration to the cloud and increasing virtualization are things we're pursuing incrementally because it makes business sense to do so, and the same common sense should guide any technology evolution.
It's incumbent upon companies across the ICT sector -- service providers, vendors, enterprise users of ICT -- to understand this. To innovate is to integrate. Figuring out where to incorporate the new with the existing is the best way to move forward without getting too far ahead of ourselves.
This blog is sponsored by Huawei.
— Dan O'Shea, Analyst, Network Transformation, Heavy Reading