Tablets: They Are Finally Ready to Shift the Face of Computing

I recently read an article exploring the idea that new tablet devices, including the iPad, will create a greater demand for SaaS and cloud storage. This is an interesting perspective to me because I don’t think we’re too far away from the day when “iPod as a service” becomes a reality and there is no more need for DRM. Paying $9.99 a month for listening to any song ACROSS any compatible device you have, and having the option not to “own” any of the albums or songs sounds good to me. Rhapsody has an early model in place already that does this to an extent (it supports a few devices, but not ANY device). With the continued development of “As A Service” business models and frameworks I can’t think of a reason why iTunes or a future “Google Tunes” cannot do it tomorrow

What used to be called Storage Area Networks a decade ago and was intended to make enterprise storage more robust and accessible is now commoditized and called the Storage Cloud. Computation is also becoming an accessible commodity with the Elastic Compute Cloud. Access to applications and storage is now more consumer friendly and unlimited. If you think about it we’re in a sense going back to the Mainframe days. Only now you can access a “mainframe” with theoretically unlimited computing and storage power, for personal use, through your phone, sitting on a train and not just for dedicated scientific or business applications. Everything is becoming more seamless and transparent. For once we needn’t worry about operating environments, compatibility, or file formats. We can now focus less on the Information Technology and more on the Information.

The defining characteristic behind the adoption of any pervasive computing enabler (SaaS being the front runner right now) has been the degree of mobility of the associated commercially available User Agent (iPad, iPhone, HP Slate, Android devices like ICD Gemini etc). While it can be argued that these devices are still in their infancy, if Moore’s law is anything to go by, we’ll see significant improvements in associated enabling technologies, specifically connectivity and bandwidth, as these devices gain market share. As the enablers do more the devices themselves need to do less without overall loss of functionality. In other words pretty soon you will find fully functional clients getting smaller and thinner simply because the technology has matured to the degree that storage and computation is not a constraint anymore. Just so long as you are connected to a pipe that’s fast enough to shuttle data back and forth without latency (IEEE 802.16 anyone?).

Taking the idea of smaller sizes and integrated capabilities a bit further I can’t help but imagine what new possibilities nano-scale technologies and quantum computing will offer in the near future. For those more inclined towards theoretical computing foundations there seems a greater push to look beyond the traditional Church-Turing conjecture that all computing technology based on registers and pointers is arguably inspired by. What seemed like sci-fi fantasy 20 years ago is in our pockets today. Mark Weiser’s Smart Device is now a reality, the internet of things is probably not too far away. By all indications could “Hyper-computation” be doable in 20 years or less? Regardless with the advent of full virtualization, on demand licensing and increased bandwidth we’re in for some good times ahead!

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