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Even the nation’s elite universities do not provide the technical training needed for the kind of powerful and highly complex computing Google is famous for, say computer scientists. So Google and I.B.M. are announcing today a major research initiative to address that shortcoming.
The two companies are investing to build large data centers that students can tap into over the Internet to program and research remotely, which is called “cloud computing.”
Google is building a data center, at an undisclosed location, that will contain more than 1,600 processors by the end of the year. I.B.M. is also setting up a data center for the initiative.
Google and I.B.M. Join in 'Cloud Computing' Research [nytimes.com]
1600 processors can only do faster what 4 can do! G has some experience to distribute simple queries, the question is, if they will create software, that can use that powerhouse really (besides serving ads very fast for the content they might fit).
"And certainly in the world of technology, take every technology company that failed, their SINS, their big mistakes, were all made in the years of their greatest profitability." Bill Gates 1999.
You can see and here Gates' words in an episode of Computer Chronicles at [archive.org...] . If you have broadband, I recommend the video file MPEG1 (309 MB).
This is about improving distributed computing technologies and getting more IT students working on such projects which goes right in line with the data center side of what Google actually does.
IBM is always doing blue-sky research, although I've generally had a feeling that their production software didn't fully track their research. (It is different in materials engineering.)
For most people, this announcement won't affect anything. Directly. But research like this will attract the next generation of hardcore CompSci students. And it will shape the thinking of the next generation of entrepreneurs -- who will build successors to the old dinosaurs selling horribly-overpriced databases and Basic interpreters and word processors on warmed-over PCs.
I spent several years programming for a mainframe manufacturer (a few of you are old enough to remember when it was #2 and IBM was the Evil Monopoly.) We did some good work but ... the architecture died, and all our hand-crafted assembly-language code died with it. That hurts.
So I see something where people are working on systems that will run truly portable software -- software that doesn't stop working because someone swaps out the CPU or breaks the operating system. And I can hardly imagine the economic potential of people thinking like this: software that doesn't have to be re-written every two or three years, programmers freed up to do new work rather than re-invent the widget, clients free to use working programs essentially forever. People freed to let their computers run, and get about with doing what computers can't do.
And that's all good.
So many adversaries of the PC have forecasted such an event. Still, their forecasts and dates have failed time after time.
Just to mention a few...
1995 October 30 - Lou Gerstner does have a vision: Network-centric computing
Gerstner said: "One of the great things about this industry is that every decade or so, you get a chance to redefine the playing field. We're in that phase of redefinition right now, and winners or losers are going to emerge from it."
1995 November 27 - Doubts About the Fantasy of a $500 'Network PC'
Eric Schmidt said: "They will exist and they will be very successful, and not just from Sun and Oracle. The price points are going to be pretty low, and they'll look more like consumer electronics. The device will have the processing power of a PC; it just doesn't have all that other stuff."
1996 October 30 - The JavaStation: Network computing enters new era
Scott McNealy said: "Take the money you'll save from not having to invest in another mainframe, from not spending on the Year 2000 [problem], and not having to upgrade your desktop PCs, and put it into the Java-computing model. It's the right architectural choice for your ROI."
1997, March 11 - IBM, Oracle, Sun, And Netscape Collaborate On Standards For Network Computing
1998 December 08 - AT&T to Acquire IBM's Global Network Business for $5 Billion
From the press release: "The IBM Global Network business AT&T will acquire serves the networking needs of several hundred large global companies, tens of thousands of mid-sized businesses and more than 1 million individual Internet users in 59 countries."
1999 January 14 - Welcome to the Post-PC Era
Paul M. Horn, senior vice president of IBM Research, said "The era of the PC as king is over. We are entering an era of 'pervasive computing' in which we will see a dramatic increase in the use of application- specific hand-held and embedded devices to conduct e-business and simplify our lives."
1999 March 25 - IBM PC unit loses $992M - Big Blue CEO Gerstner declares end of PC era
Gerstner's quote: "... the PC's reign as the driver of customer buying decisions and the primary platform for application development is over. In all those respects, it has been supplanted by the network."
2002 June 03 - Hitachi and IBM Reach Definitive Agreement on Hard Disk Drive Operations
From the press release: "Hitachi has agreed to purchase the majority of IBM's HDD-related assets for $2.05 billion, which includes the transfer of IBM's HDD-related intellectual property portfolio to the new organization. Hitachi will initially own 70 percent of this new company and will make a series of fixed payments to IBM before assuming full ownership after three years."
2004 December 7 - Lenovo to Acquire IBM Personal Computing Division
2007 October 8 - Google and I.B.M. Join in 'Cloud Computing'
And we're still waiting for the demise of the PC!
Although the rise of software available solely online with no download ever occurring is a move towards you sitting down at a terminal that "taps" into a massive cluster of computers working as one unit...the privacy ramifications of which I can't even begin to consider. Personally, I'll never buy a screen with a keyboard and mouse that plug into some corporations internet cluster of computers. If that service ever becomes available, I could see why a great deal of consumers would be interested, seeing as how the initial equipment cost would be greatly reduced with no "tower" to buy, would probably have some ongoing service fees attached however to cover software updates etc, and would likely have the ISP cost rolled into those fees.
And my post won't be lost just because I switch machines.
It's worth a lot to me that _all_ of my work doesn't get lost just because I switch machines.
So it's not a matter of the demise or non-demise of the PC. It's a matter of the demise of the _relevance_ of PC-ness to a computer's universal usefulness. The PC could die this afternoon or survive all day tomorrow, and nobody would need to care, (except the people who've dead-ended themselves into specializations like making PC-specific buggy whips.)
And that's the power of the new generation of software. Java was certainly a precurser to the new generation: and now more computers run Java than any single operating system. (Cell phones, remember.) The more innovative a company is, the less it wants to waste on re-inventing wheels. And Java is already successful enough that Microsoft has been forced to create a "clone" ("C## is just Java without the portability, reliability, or efficiency...", as a genuine technological visionary has well said.)
"Nobody will ever need more than 64K of memory" -- Bill Gates on the future of computing
"That depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." -- Bill Gates on why it's OK to lie under oath
"Let's cut off their air supply." -- Bill Gates on ethical business practices.
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