One should think that Florida in spring is pure sunshine, but actually it looks quite rainy these days. So Cy and I have the time and concentration to follow the IBM PULSE 2008 Conference, which we are attending this year. Just for a short introduction, I have been listening to the opening keynote moderated by Al Zollar (really good show). The best speech in the opening block was given by Steve Mills who introduced the challenges the IT service industry is facing today. He talked about the introduction of “smart devices” or intelligence into most devices that are making up our assets (not just IT but all infrastructure) and the possibilities these new interfaces offer. He also talked about the growing amount and growth of data processed and stored today. This was (of course) followed by a presentation of the challenges the energy hunger of IT components makes us all face in terms of environmental, social and economic consequences. All this wrapped up in the expectation, that with IT becoming ever more part of every day life and every day business the expectations towards quality of service of IT systems are not just rising but are at roughly 100% – he made a very impressive connection to telecommunication (the dial tone is there when you pick up the phone) and the power grid (power is simply available, when you need it). In order for IT to meet these expectations Mr. Mills proposed that the IT professionals are facing their final challenge in industrialization of IT services.
Does that sound familiar? Yes, it does (at least if you have read quite a bit of what we have been writing here)… Mr. Mills went about industrialization on a rather abstract level, but one of his key points wars process automation and automating manual labor. The latter being exactly where the automation technology I am focused on comes into play. Especially when all the smart devices keep on generating more and more monitoring data it is not just laborious to handle all the events the attention of administrative staff is supposed to be pointed to, but at some level just becomes impossible. That is when we need an “engine” or an “industrial robot” to take care of processing the events and taking the right action.
I have seen great approaches for visualizing events and monitoring data here as well as very interesting techniques and technologies to get in control of automated processes (I should point out, that these concepts were obviously inspired by practices from the production industry), but I have not seen much on tools that actually perform the work. I think we will have some very interesting conversations with colleagues from all branches of the IT industry on our ideas concerning actually automating the operating of IT systems. At least my first impression at a “meet the experts” event after the key note is, that IBM PULSE 2008 is the right place for an open minded discussion on how far we can possibly take this approach of automating IT operating and what technology is needed or even available to do that. I am very excited about that, especially since the idea of automation – an idea techies have been discussing for quite some time – seems to have penetrated strategic management and people like Mr. Mills show how far someone with a vision can take the concept of automation.