Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Fog Computing

Cisco that advocated the term "Internet of Everything" is now advocating the term "Fog Computing". these terms are related.    According to Cisco the cloud computing model is being replaced by the fog model.   
While in cloud computing all computation is done in a remote computing center, in fog computing the computation is distributed between local processing ("at the edge of the network") and remote processing. The relationship to the sensor world is straightforward.   A site might have multiple sensors. Some of the processing can be processed locally, and some need to be processed in a remote place, furthermore, this may be dynamic and tuned in real-time.   The picture above shows the before (cloud model) and after (fog model).   The example is energy system.  There may be processing done in a processor located in a single house which takes into considerations all sensors installed in the house.  There are other types of processing that related to data from multiple houses and need to be processed in a place where all data is available.  

Note that nothing is really new (besides the names).  Cloud computing is a new name for an old computing model that was once called "service bureau".  In the past the "cloud" was a single mainframe, and the edge where collection of dumb terminals.  Now the cloud is a grid, and the edge has processing power, but the principle is the same.    Fog is also an old principle of distributing the work reminding of N-tier middleware. 

I guess that the fog model is indeed more appropriate for IoT scenario than cloud model, in some of the projects that we are now planning within the Institute of Technological Empowerment,  are indeed fog based.  The sensors are going to be communicating with a local processor (which may be as simple as a tablet) with some processing done on the local processor, and some on the cloud.  This brings us back to the idea of event processing on mobile.   

After cloud and fog, we are waiting also for some - wind, rain, and sleet.... 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gartner hype cycle July 2014

Gartner published its hype cycle report recently.   The "Internet of Things" is now at the top of the hype cycle, defined as "peak of inflated expectation".   "Big Data" which has been there before, and now moved down the line of disillusionment.   Another hype in the height is the "natural language question answering" that was hyped by IBM's Watson.   In the upwords side we can see among other things: software-defined anything, connected home, and prescriptive analytics.    Note that in the right-hand side there are technologies which are considered mature, such as: speech recognition, enterprise 3D printings and in-memory analytics.  "Complex event processing" is moving slowly down the disillusionment path. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

My upcoming talk in INTEROP, September 29, NYC

I was invited to give a talk in the Internet of Things summit that will take place in INTEROP, in NYC September 29. 

My talk will be about "The Internet of Things and Personalization", the area I am investigating nowadays.

Other speakers will be  Richard Soley, CEO of OMG, and John Morris, VP of ComplexIT. 
The moderator is Chris Taylor from TIBCO, a well known writer in this area.

Anybody that wishes to meet me in the NYC area during that week - please let me know. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book review: The Decline and Fall of IBM

Since I spent more than 16 years in IBM, I read with interest a small book authored by Robert Cringley, a journalist that has investigated the insides of IBM during the last few years. The title is a paraphrase on the famous book: "The decline and fall of the Roman Empire", and indeed when I was young and IBM dominated the IT market it looked like the Roman Empire from the outside.  Cringley starts by surveying IBM's history , getting to Lou Gerstner period where he saved IBM for a while,  while he mentions the good things that Gerstner did for IBM he also mentions some of his mistakes:  building competitive services arm using cheaper labor, which deteriorated the quality, the second mistake is selling the networking business to AT&T, and the biggest mistake according to Cringley is nominating Sam Palmisano to be his successor.

His main criticism is indeed addressed at Palmisano by taking the "shareholder only" approach to extreme (I have written before about the shareholder value myth).  Maximizing the shareholder value, and the "2015 roadmap" making the $20 Earning Per Share as the only game in town.  Kringley claims that by doing it IBM became a cash cow,  Meeting the 2015 roadmap involves financial engineering, such as spending $101 Billion dollars on buying back around third of its shares, inflating the value artificially, moreover, IBM does it with borrowed money.  The problem is not only the financial aspect, constants cutbacks in workforce hurt the quality of service of IBM to customers, and IBM suffered various contract cancellations. He also criticises the HR aspect, IBM is calling its employees "resources" and the workforce reduction is called "resource action".   My note:  once when I worked in IBM we had a meeting of HR director from the USA with all manager, and when she kept talking about people as "resources", one of my colleagues remarked that in the Israeli culture is considered as a big insult, like calling person "it" in English. She tried her best to use the term "people" or "employees", but it was difficult for her, since she really thinks on people as resources, however, people don't like to be treated as resources, and the current policies create a dissonance between the upper management and many employees. Finally he analyzes the areas where IBM is active:  hardware, software, services, analytics, mobile and cloud, analyzes IBM problems in each of the area, and talks about possible solution.    The author's conclusion is quite pessimistic for the future of IBM unless the current CEO Ginni Rommety will make fundamental changes.  He also brings a lot of letters from insiders to reinforce his opinions.

As a veteran IBMer, many of the things he talked about were familiar to me.  I am not qualified to judge IBM strategy,  but there is a general sentiment  among many people inside IBM that is consistent with his conclusions.  However, I believe that IBM which survived more than 100 years will survive this, but probably it will need another Gerstner-like person to get it out of the box it is now...  

Sunday, July 27, 2014


After a 10 days vacation in the black forest in Germany, back to work and to blogging. I have written a few weeks ago about the very unique event of preparing prototypes of devices for disabled people.   
Now they released a short video highlighting the event and some of the most impressive projects. 
Our Institute of Technological Empowerment is going to work with the organizers on additional projects in thee area of using technology to aid disabled people. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Iron Dome: A proactive real-time system that saves our lives

This is a picture of rocket interception by a system called "Iron Dome".    We live in Israel which has been suffering in the last week massive attacks of rockets.  The defense answer to these rockets is an amazing technology developed in Israel which demonstrates the principle of proactive event-driven computing in real life.   The system consists of the detection part which identifies that a rocket has been launched, the prediction part that anticipates where the rocket will hit,  a decision part that decides whether it is necessary to intercept the rocket, this is a cost-benefit analysis.  In many cases the rockets hit empty spaces, in that case it is not cost-effective to intercept them, since each activation of this system is quite expensive.  If the decision is that it is necessary to intercept the rocket, the decision is what is the best point of interception, and  a missile is fired accordingly.  This is a decision support systems with human in the loop.    The missile itself is equipped with electro-optic sensors.    During the last few days this technology has proven very effective and eliminated quite a lot of potential damage to the civilian population.   Many people have been skeptic about the feasibility of this system.  but the results are impressive.  Furthermore it is a good demonstration of the proactive event-based paradigm.    

The blog and myself are going on short vacation in Germany.  Will return in two weeks. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The institute of Technology Empowerment - first meeting

Yesterday we conducted a meeting of people that are interested in the institute of technological empowerment that I am driving, they came from different sectors - academia, high-tech companies, non-profit organization, municipalities and more...  In the meeting I have presented an introduction and initial plan for the institute, and different people presented various aspects -- the societal, the professional behind it, and the various projects we are looking at.   I have posted this presentation on slideshare.  We are also looking for international collaborators.  I'll write more about the type of collaborators we are looking for.