I’m going to spend about a third of my time showing you beautiful images and talking about astronomy and science fiction in the hopes that it will inspire you, and then I have back-loaded the end of the presentation with actionable information so you can assure your bosses that you were not slacking off.
Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This is what you get when you point the Hubble space telescope at, I think it’s two arc seconds of apparently dark southern sky. This image still wows me, because with the exception of one or two large bright objects, what you’re looking at here are not individual stars. They’re galaxies. And I think about this image a lot when I start getting too confident that maybe I understand a bit of the market or a bit of the world. I like to remember that I probably don’t understand anything as well as I think I do, because the universe is huge and very complicated.
That said, we have computers to understand things for us now. This is the joyously named Dark Energy Universe Simulation, or DEUS. It’s the first ever simulation of the full observable universe, 90 billion light years side to side.
It was built on this French supercomputer, joyously named CURIE, and the results were published just this week. We’ll get back to that. For now I want to look at something a little closer to home…
Giant stellar nursery NGC 604 in Triangulum galaxy, third-largest member of Local Group. 1300 light years across, 3m light years from earth. William Herschel found it. Composite of images from Chandra Observatory and Hubble. The point of looking at the giant stellar nursery is not only that it’s incredibly beautiful. It’s that stars are still being born, out of these incredibly violent physical forces.
A starfleet from the film Serenity. This is how we like to imagine spacefaring.
But the reality is much more prosaic, much cuter and in its own way, much more awesome. We’re going to see more and more robots. We’re going to see more sea and air and space robots. We’re going to see robots for inhospitable environments and robots for doing boring and unpleasant jobs.
We’re going to have robot wars. This is one of the epic battles between Sewer Snake versus Last Rites at Robogames a couple of weeks ago. My husband was working arena crew and he picked up a fragment of Sewer Snake’s tempered steel carapace that had been torn off by Last Rites. He brought it home to show our girls. As the NFL tries to deal with its concussion crisis, it might want to think about drafting some robots; they’re good at taking injuries that would kill humans. That’s kinda what they’re for.
Robots are a usefully concrete way to think about automation. You know there’s a reason software has things called bots and daemons and agents and scripts and virtual machines. It’s hard to think about software, so my recommendation is, think about robots instead. The nice thing about software is that a bit is a bit; you can copy it endlessly without destroying it. Information is a very post-scarcity sort of commodity. But it does need to be tended. The more complex your systems get, the more emergent properties they start to demonstrate, and the more you start to deal with issues like configuration drift and bitrot. So as well as thinking of yourself as the emperor of the robots, it’s useful to think about your empire as a garden.
This is what I think all our jobs will look like in future. We’ll get software agents to do the boring or repetitive or dangerous work for us, and we’ll just make sure they are doing it correctly.
Perspective is a funny thing. This is another picture you may have seen before, it’s called the Pale Blue Dot. It was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. This was Carl Sagan’s idea, by the way. Voyager is looking over its shoulder. The pale blue dot is earth. Everyone who was alive in 1990, everyone who had ever lived, everything we know of that had ever lived, everything they thought and hoped and dreamed and worked for is on that dot right there.
But in case that’s uncomfortably humbling, consider this. As Voyager flies out of the solar system it’s going to start to see constellations like Orion side-on, and when it does it will see something like this. When you join up all the dots in all the constellations, you’ll end up with all these jagged lines that look like they are pointing towards the earth. That’s because they are.
The earth is at the center of the known universe, and the center of history. Obviously this is an artefact of our anthrocentric view of the universe, but it’s also, you know, just the way things are.
So. Given that the universe is vast, and that we’ve hardly begun scraping the surface of it, and that the best way to understand it is with machines and software, you’ll understand why I’m so keen on technology and consider it the key to unlocking pretty much everything that’s interesting. I also believe that the decisions we make about infrastructure today will have very long-term, far-reaching effects, and that it therefore behooves us to establish clean APIs and maintainable code and open access and liberal licenses. We’re writing a technical constitution for the future. Programmer-archaeologists will thank us to the extent that we do a good job.
William Gibson famously said that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed, and I have to admit this is a big part of the appeal of living in San Francisco. In 1998 my friends would raise a Series A and buy a Sun E10K. In 2005 they would spend it on a contract with 365 Main. Today they often don’t bother with VC at all. And Bessemer and Sierra won’t fund you if you have infrastructure on prem. Startups are building everything on the cloud, and that’s important, because startups are the canaries in the coalmine. They were also the first to adopt the Web and Linux and virtualization.
Even more surprising is the explosion in adoption of tablets. The phrase, the Internet of Things was coined to talk about ubiquitous RFID, but I’ve been using it to talk about this proliferation of smart devices.
No prizes for guessing the winner of the tablet wars…
…but the picture in smartphones is not so straightforward. Though I’ve always had Apple computers I use an Android myself (but then, my tablet’s a Kindle Touch so I am hardly an exemplar.)
Managing infrastructure for an Internet of Things, Rachel Chalmers n•fluence 2012
Managing infrastructure for anInternet of ThingsRachel ChalmersResearch director, infrastructure computing for the enterprise (ICE)
Agenda• Everything is changing• Bits > atoms• You are the center of the universe• Towards an infrastructure for the Internet of Things • Cloud computing • Platform-as-a-service • Identity and desktop management • Big data• Recommendations for IT managers
Everything is changing• The universe is enormously bigger than you think it is• Peace is the exception. Violent change is the rule• The universe is probably at the beginning of its life • 13.7bn years old • Ends range from 20-100bn to 10150 years from now• Vernor Vinge’s programmer-archaeologists• Sensitive dependence on initial conditions
Bits > atoms• Robots are transitional objects between bits and atoms• Bits are immortal• Knowledge isn’t immortal• Software rots• Knowledge is a garden
The future of work• Make robots (automation) do your dirty work• Supervise your robots and help others supervise theirs
You are the center of the universe• Shelley: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”• Wrong. Systems administrators• Code is law• Alasdair Gray: “Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”
Infrastructure for an Internet of Things• Tablet demand skyrocketing• Desktop virtualization for constellation of endpoints• Developer critical mass moves to Android and iOS• Early adoption of PaaS is for mobile development• Mobile apps are data fountains• Data can be captured, analyzed and gleaned
Cloud computing• Best practices from cloud in demand in enterprise IT• Future enterprise IT buying uses clouds as channels• Cloud providers become gatekeepers to enterprise• Licensing will look less like ELAs and more like SPLAs• Dominant model will be (already is) hybrid Colo MSP Cloud App IT org
Platform-as-a-service• Emerging default model for collaborative agile dev• VMware has to get from here to there• Microsoft, Red Hat, Oracle and Google are rivals• Upstarts to watch: Engine Yard, Infochimps, Joyent• Apps are targeted to mobile devices
Identity and desktop management• Active Directory ubiquitous in infrastructure• No VDI or hybrid cloud can function without it• Google+ is not a competitor to Facebook• Google+ competes with Active Directory• Who owns your identity?
Big data• Mobile applications are data farms• Consumers will use them free or at low cost• Their behavioral data will be harvested for analysis• Hammerbacher: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads” • Personal genomics • Evidence-based education • Sustainable design• “Total data” management
Recommendations for IT managers1. Reinvent IT org as internal service provider
Recommendations for IT managers1. Reinvent IT org as internal service provider2. Unify, unify, unify
Recommendations for IT managers1. Reinvent IT org as internal service provider2. Unify, unify, unify3. Manage datacenter, network, server, storage, virtual layer, application, user experience, cloud as one entity
Recommendations for IT managers1. Reinvent IT org as internal service provider2. Unify, unify, unify3. Manage datacenter, network, server, storage, virtual layer, application, user experience, cloud as one entity4. Go beyond managing incidents and problems to manage change and configuration ahead of need
Recommendations for IT managers1. Reinvent IT org as internal service provider2. Unify, unify, unify3. Manage datacenter, network, server, storage, virtual layer, application, user experience, cloud as one entity4. Go beyond managing incidents and problems to manage change and configuration ahead of need5. Empower end users to become power users