There is a new commodity in the high tech world.
Ask any of the iPad user that got one in the early days. Unlimited bandwidth is no longer available on the iPad. I am one of the lucky users. With a combination of my travel schedule, high Bandwidth using applications like Netflix and Broadlook’s Profiler, I regularly top 12-15 Gigabytes per month in data transfer. Data plans today cover 2GB which means I am using 6-8 times the bandwidth that new iPad users get.
I am a bandwidth hog. I am one of the 2% of people that use the majority of the bandwidth and I’ve got a message for AT&T…I’m keeping my plan…forever.
Why blog about this? It is a warning for the uninformed.
Guess what? Very soon you will be a bandwidth hog. AT&T, Verizon and the other carriers understand this. It is the nature of technology. More and more applications, business logic and media rests in the cloud. Now Apple and Google each want to offer streaming music services. No longer will you have your iTunes on your desktop, laptop or iPad. Nope. They want all your music in the cloud. Why? Apple gets a piece of the service fee that you pay AT&T for your iPhone or iPad. Bandwidth is the new electricity.
This is reminiscent of 2002–2008 when every idiot said that you must make your software offering SaaS (Software as a service). SaaS is mostly good for service providers since it gives them reoccurring revenue, but it is not always the best solution. Don’t get me wrong, I am huge believer in SaaS, but it is not a panacea.
Now they (the same smart zealots who want your $$)…are saying that they want all your stuff in the cloud. Why? Simple, if you store everything : backups, music, CRM, etc in the cloud then you need bandwidth to access it.
At the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle talked about the cloud NOT being a single set of servers but a flexible appliance. Thank you Larry! He gets it. Most don’t.
The Flexible Appliance
What is it? My iPhone is a flexible appliance. In a recent talk at the MRI Worldwide conference (The Near and far Future of Recruiting), I demonstrated on stage the advent of the mobile web server. My laptop connected to a website that was hosted on my iPhone and one person in the front row said “that’s cool!” out loud. Not the response I was hoping for, but it sunk in to enough people that had time to think about it. It inspired some great conversations about the future of recruiting.
I used an iPhone app called ServersMan that makes your iPhone a web server. Being able to run a web server on a mobile phone has huge implications.
If you want to test the vision of a technical leader ask them this question:
When mobile devices (iPhones, iPads) can act as functional web servers, what does that mean for the technology landscape?”
They should be stunned, they should be wondering, they should be smiling. If they don’t, then they lack vision. The advent of the true flexible appliance will bring:
-Massive bandwidth usage. Via your mobile flexible appliance/personal web server, you will be connected to everything
-Downfall of Facebook. News to Zuck. The future social networks will be controlled from the pocket.
-movement from “their” cloud to “my” cloud.
When I have proposed the above, among tech folks, they remind me that some sort of middleware needs to facilitate one mobile web server finding and connecting to another. This already exists, it is called dynamic DNS and their are a bunch of companies that offer this. With DynamicDNS, my iPhone web server could very quickly connect to 200 of my friends and update my status on their mobile devices. No cloud, no Facebook needed. The only limitation is bandwidth and mobile processing speed.
The above scenario will happen once people realize they don’t want Facebook storing everything about them. Due to the nature of the beast, they will continue to violate the privacy of their users. Eventually it will go away. Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook. It gives me a way to connect with grandma and show pictures of the kids. Facebook may change and become the king of the middle, middleware the ties everything consumer together. But do you trust them? I don’t.
It’s all about the middleware.
As I look at SaaS (Software as a Service) and then PaaS (Platform as a Service) combined with the advent of the flexible appliance, I realize that my previous thinking was limited. In the mobile future, the mobile is the cloud, the flexible appliance. For consumer apps like Facebook, people will eventually prefer to keep their personal data in a place they control it. However, for business applications like CRM and ATS (Applicant Tracking), I see a new class of business. Middleware as a service (MaaS).
Middleware as a service will balance the load between the cloud and the flexible appliance. Unlike the limited browser-based applications today, MaaS systems will balance the rich interface and local power of flexible appliance with the security, flexible business logic and data storage in the cloud. It will be interesting to watch it evolve.
With all this stuff in the works… if you get an unlimited bandwidth package, read the contract and if you can, never give it up. Providers will offer unlimited bandwidth as a promotion and then like AT&T/Apple, try to get you to downgrade from $30 per month to $25 per month to relinquish your unlimited package.
Did I mention that once you get it, never give it up?