Mobile computing. Cloud computing. Client-server computing. Green computing.

A new mainframe. A 9U supercomputer. Scale-out clusters. High-bandwidth RAID controllers. Multi-core processors. Massive memory servers.

Facebook. YouTube. Twitter. Blogging. MySpace. Google apps.

The Next Big Thing: there is no Next Big Thing
Punctuated equilibrium is an evolutionary theory that posits that long periods of “normal” evolution – stepwise enhancements that fine-tune environmental adaptation – are interrupted by big events – asteroid strikes, climate change – that engender explosions of mutation and variety. These variations then get whittled down by the pressures of the new normal.

The current hype around “cloud computing” is a case in point. Much over-heated prognostication about how this changes everything. But does it?

Cloud computing will host a certain class of applications that

  • Have low bandwidth requirements
  • Only require ~99% uptime
  • Are latency insensitive

Both “low bandwidth” and “latency insensitive” are relative measures. They will change over time. We’ve always had those applications and always will.

In the 1980’s those requirements fit PCs and Novell LANs. In the 1990s they fit browsers and 56k modems. Today they fit smart phones, sociall media, some web-hosted productivity apps and cool data storage

But there will always be important apps that don’t meet these restrictions and never will. Plus there will be new products that provide “cloud” advantages of cost and scale without the disadvantages of security, latency and bandwidth costs. Is a local “cloud” still a cloud?

The StorageMojo take.
Our human pattern-recognition hardware craves simple patterns and big stories – even if they aren’t there.

What is actually happening is that we are seeing an explosion of new computing forms to take advantage of many new market niches. Old forms will either bend – as the mainframe has – or break – as the minicomputer companies did.

Implicit requirements are becoming explicit. Market demand is great enough to support a larger number of niches. Application users are gradually understanding what they need – as opposed to what they’ve always wanted.

Out of this stew will come the new normal. For a few years anyway.

Comments welcome, of course.