Author(s): Mark Peters

Published: January 8, 2012

Look Ahead Through The Rear View Mirror

I'm in the midst of my US naturalization process. Aside from anything else, one of the requirements in the process is to provide details of overseas trips one has made over many years as a resident in the US. Since I've changed jobs, laptops, and even calendar applications over that time, fulfilling the task necessitated finding the cache of old physical diaries that were lurking in a closet somewhere. More on this in just a sentence or two....

Meantime, it's very normal to make predictions at this time of year, with blogs and articles awash with prognostications...I won't be immune from that over the coming weeks but for now I figure I'll do something a little different by looking backwards in order to look forwards; and in so doing come up with one prediction of which I'm supremely confident.

Of course, once I found the stash of old pocket diaries I couldn't help but look through them, whether or not they were applicable to the naturalization paperwork. Apparently I used to have a life! But I figure you're not that interested in the plays I saw, parties I attended, and parenting events I undertook!? So I picked a few things of interest...before wondering what we would have predicted for 2012 from a decade or two ago?

First off, some of you may be too young to really have appreciated a good pocket diary - these things were mines of information....from world time-zones and public holidays (pretty useful) to wine vintages, metric/imperial conversions and atlases so tiny that you could barely make out the continents let alone cities. But there were also pages to note your expenses (no Excel back then!) and I was able to look back at all my achieved sales numbers through the years - at least until everything went electronic and of course I have no idea where, or if, the more recent records are! [I'm sure there's a pertinent point in that!] Of rather more drama, it reminded me of one of my managers in the UK that was murdered (the rumor was that it was a 'hit,' although whether the result of marital issues or conducting 'dodgy' leasing deals was never clear). Even more dramatic is the fact that the map of the World has changed notably in the last few decades....Europe alone looks crucially different from when I was selling round tape drives to British Airways! On an almost similar theme (because Germany is one of those changed geographies), but of no marked importance to the world, I found a distressingly large notation of when I got my first BMW....and the polo events that they'd invite me to, not realizing that I was a meager company-car-3-series-driver and not likely to be splurging big, real money of my own anytime!

So, trying to look forwards as if from back then, what can I say? I could lie and tell you that today's technologies were clear to all, but that would be disingenuous in the extreme. After all - just to put it in perspective - I'm writing this blog on my BlackBerry in an airport, and later I'll - wirelessly of course - clean it up and load it to the 'Cloud' site that supports it. Heck, I thought I was cool and space-age when I first got a car-phone, so I can't lay claim to having figured out the impact or capabilities of this 'Internet Age'! Actually maybe it was/is the 'Information Age'....I know this for a fact because I can see that one of the myriad courses I attended back then was at Cranfield Management Centre in 1997 and it was called "Reinventing Competitive Advantage in the Information Age!"

Computing in the years before that - at least to me as an early business user - was lots of columns of green numbers on a black screen.....there were no products with an 'i' in front of them back then, and the line between corporate and personal computing (to the limited extent it even existed) was very solid and very wide. Basically, there were mainframes doing big, important work and people in corduroys and white coats that operated them. In fact, that perhaps brings us to one of the big changes - and it's not technical at all. As we're re-creating the concepts of a mainframe world in many respects (VDI running in the things called Clouds, over the Internet, accessing Big Data and interconnected up the wazzoo, create a massive global mainframe 'feel') the attire of choice for IT folks is getting a big change - and it's not even jeans, as these days our web-based world means PJ's are just as likely to be the sartorial choice.

What then is my semi-serious, but likely correct, prediction for 2012 and beyond? Forget the evolutionary technical advances, and watch the advance of the flannel revolution! This may read like just a whimsical point, but - like my old hand-written pocket calendars - there's a lot more in it than you'd think.

You can read Mark's other blog entries at The Business of Storage.

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Mark Peters is an ESG senior analyst focused on storage systems. His particular areas of emphasis are block storage; virtualized storage; all types of solid-state storage; and the challenges of power, cooling, and space efficiency in data centers. Mark has more than 25 years of data storage industry experience and has held senior management roles in sales, marketing, product management, business development, and customer intimacy in the U.S. and internationally.

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