Today’s Technology is Awesome… Really!
High Technology, Innovation, Opinions Posted Oct 21, 2015 by chenpr
In 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, America’s Atomic Age turned science fiction into science fact, spurring innovation and imagination at a grand scale. It was the era of Telstar and tailfins, when anything seemed possible—including flying cars. But rather than fill the skies, flying cars became a symbol of technology’s unfulfilled potential; a trope that speaks to our disappointment for what could have been. That disappointment, however, is misplaced. Look around and you’ll see: technology today is pretty awesome, and it does some amazing things that we might take for granted.
Even if our automobiles never got off the ground, it doesn’t mean they’ve been standing still. Pop the hood on your average sedan and look a little more closely. You won’t see the means for defying gravity, but what you will find is ample evidence of an astonishing amount of innovation. Whether it is an internal combustion engine or an electric motor, the device impelling your Ford, Toyota, or Tesla is compact, efficient, and powerful to an incredible degree.
It’s the same in enterprise IT. Yes, there’s a great deal of innovation in new areas of technology such as data security, cloud, Big Data and analytics, mobile computing, the Internet of Things, and so on, yet our thirst for what could be has resulted in a sense of dissatisfaction with what is. And that’s too bad because what is, is pretty great.
In fact much of the technology we rely on every day is the stuff we’ve relied on for decades. And much of the fancy new stuff is really just that same reliable tech souped up and with a new name. Cloud computing, for example, is just a fancy way of saying “a lot of someone else’s servers.” If your cloud provider is Amazon Web Services, one estimate puts that number at as many as 5.6 million. Add to that the cloud computing muscle of Microsoft, Google, CSC, Rackspace, and all the other infrastructure-as-a-service players and you’re talking about a lot of rock-solid traditional technology powering the next generation of computing.
Even mainframe computers, whose obituary has been (prematurely) written a number of times in recent years, continue to play a major role in the back offices of financial services, telecommunications, and governmental operations. We may access these services on our tiny mobile devices, but there’s a lot of big iron at work behind the scenes. The global market for mainframe computers is in the billions, and it’s not going away any time soon.
You don’t have to look too far to find other examples of traditional tech playing an integral role in enterprise operations. We take the Internet and email for granted today, but both media trace their roots to 1969 and the advent of ARPANET. And even with all the attention paid to cloud-based file transfer and collaboration players like Box and Dropbox, Managed File Transfer (MFT) is technology that is decades old but continues to grow because it is a safe, reliable means of transferring huge data files common in media and entertainment, engineering, healthcare, and other industries that, more and more, rely on another hot segment—Big Data.
Traditional technologies continue to shoulder the burden of business. We have the tools to do more things faster, more efficiently and less expensively than ever—even if there are some who clamor for what doesn’t yet exist. In truth, that enthusiasm for “what’s next” has kept our technology industry determined to innovate—and keeps current technologies evolving. Changing needs, market pressures, consumer demands, and a number of other elements will still cause the arc of innovation to respond in exciting ways, but that doesn’t mean that so-called legacy technology is obsolete.
In fact, a lot of it is awesome.