Gene FrantzTI Principal Fellow, Futurist and Business Development Manager, DSP
Technological advances has a habit of changing our perspective of things. One of the perspectives I am seeing change is the flow of the market. My first observation of this phenomona was my introduction to Youtube and Myspace many years ago. I learned about it from someone in the entertainment business. The company he worked for both created content and distributed it. He had a great concern: How was his company going to compete in this new world where the content came from the end user rather than the content creator through the content distributor? I found it an exciting new opportunity for new businesses to be created and new ways of distributing entertainment to be established.With that in mind I began to look at other aspects of our lives that might be in the process of making this same change or will soon begin the process. Two aspects come to my mind:-Power distribution-Data sharing and storageLet me start with power distribution. If we draw a block diagram of the power distribution system, we would start with the power generation plant, then draw in the power grid, finally ending with my house. But I argue the direction we are going this will be reversed. Here is how the story goes. I decide that I want to put in a personal power system (solar, wind, etc) at my house. I find that my two nearest neighbors are thinking the same thing so we go in together to create a three house cooperative. We even have a special building created to house the energy storage system that allows us to go completely off grid. But, then, we notice that there is another three house cooperative next to ours and we work through the details to create a six house cooperative. This expands to our whole neighborhood. Next our neighborhood aligns with several other neighborhoods finally connecting our whole community into the cooperative. The obvious next step it for our community cooperative to interconnect with other community cooperatives. So we have now inverted the original block diagram of the power distribution system. The center now is my house rather than the power plant. Perhaps the rest of the block diagram looks like the first one.We can have the same discussion on data sharing. Now we have server farms that we, as end users, connect to through various and sundry means. Perhaps the same will happen to it. That is, I will have my own personal server farm. My neighborhood begins to cooperate allowing all of us to use each others server farm. Just as the power example it spreads from there.The importance of this last example is it poses a question of “why would I want to be in charge of a server farm”? But rather than answer that question immediately, let me suggest another option. That is the creation of “domain specific” server farms. For example, it won’t be long until every doctors office will have a medical imager in every exam room. Every time I have an annual physical exam (if not everytime I’m in the doctors office), I get a full body scan. And, so does everyone else. It is easy to see that there should be a doctors office specific server farm that not only stores the image data but also processes it, encrypts it, stores it and compares it to later scans for changes. Hospitals, clynics, etc. will want the same capability.I suspect other domain specific servers could be suggested and may some day exist. But I’ll leave that to you to determine. That is, if you buy into my base concept of the inversion of the block diagrams.
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