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Joint Meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of ACM and The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
“PETER COFFEE’S ANNUAL FORECAST”
(Note that this meeting will be on the 2nd Wednesday!)
With products like Windows® Vista and chip-based security, the battle of the PC is still going strong. Long-awaited breakthroughs in nano-scale manufacture and high-speed communication are finally leaving the laboratory, the Internet is maturing into a distributed computing platform with industry standards for remote Web services interaction.
Make sense of it all in an evening of analysis and comment with Peter Coffee; he will provide an "insider’s" view and forecasts for key technologies in computing, communications, and business and technical applications. His talk will span the range from nanometer chip fabrication techniques to worldwide multi-gigabit networks and will include time for questions.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com. He joined the company in January of 2007 after spending 18 years as a technology analyst and columnist at the industry magazines eWEEK and PC Week. He currently works with enterprise and commercial developers to clarify their requirements for use of the Salesforce Platform in developing and deploying on-demand applications.
Peter was previously the first manager of PC planning at The Aerospace Corporation, where he also worked in space systems applications of artificial intelligence techniques. Before that Peter was a Senior Engineer working in arctic project management, chemical facility construction and synthetic fuels project planning at Exxon. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, where he also served as a faculty member for information systems management; he has held other faculty appointments in computer science at UCLA and in business analytics at Chapman College. He is the author of two books, How to Program Java and Peter Coffee Teaches PCs. Peter's current commentaries for the salesforce.com developer network appear at URL:
LA ACM Chapter September Meeting. Held Wednesday September 10, 2008.
PETER COFFEE’S ANNUAL FORECAST -- “Thinking About 'The New Normal'”
The presentation was “Thinking About 'The New Normal'.” Peter Coffee is the Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com. This was a joint meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of ACM and the Los Angeles Chapter of the Association for Information Technology Professionals (AITP) and was held at the Spitfire Grill near the Santa Monica airport. This year AITP, once again, did the hard work of making the arrangements for the meeting.
Peter Coffee started out taking questions at the “Round Table” before the main presentation.
Much nonsense has been written about Chrome including this is the operating system for web applications ignoring the fact that it only runs on Windows. Why can't you get a Mac version? There are a lot of security systems on Vista Chrome uses that would require additional effort to install on other operating systems. Peter has downloaded Chrome and found some things that had run in Firefox that did not run under Chrome. The longest awaited change since the "Year of the LAN" is the way we use the web. We are getting away from the idea that we do everything on one screen and some people have been getting 15% more work done by having two screens available and in use. We are more excited about getting rid of extra dedicated devices. Everything not only should be inter-connected, but also do something intelligent. Something like having the TV die down when your phone rings would be useful. Desktop devices will not define the web.
If Microsoft had delivered Longhorn Project on time it with what was called the “3 colors of Longhorn” would have been very good. Peter was enthusiastic about it and gave some examples of what it was supposed to do. The demos were convincing, not just slideware. Two years later they delivered a poor subset of Longhorn and Peter was very much disappointed.
Where is Microsoft? The web is going toward a place where it is so tied together with nonproprietary interfaces like service protocols and such can interact with many different interfaces. It is now pretty much impossible for one party to insist on setting things so they operate only with their systems on the web. Has anyone seen the Seinfield – Gates ads on the web or TV? What does it mean? Market systems based on the premise that you don’t know how dumb you are don’t usually succeed even if they are well-founded. Microsoft is openly talking about some new operating system called Windows 7 and suggests that it doesn’t matter if people like it or not. This type of advertising leads people to hate something before they even encounter it. Microsoft already put out Vista, whether people liked it or not. There was a recent Newsweek story about all the things Bush did right in his second term by undoing some of the things he did in his first term. Vista is hated for how it was when it came out but is now quite a bit better than it was originally.
Microsoft is more than just operating systems. The problem is it is so much more. You can be a complete Microsoft shop today without anyone else’s code. Microsoft’s next big thing is a unified communications venture. They have a large amount of software in development that is not being shipped in a coordinated way. Bill Gates said 10 years ago that you will seldom find a leader in one major phase who is the leader in the next major phase of the industry. They almost accomplished a move to an internet centric world with .Net. They said if you know .NET that is all you need to know. Can they make the next major move to major industries that run off “The Cloud”? Microsoft is flexible enough but they have too many proprietary applications that are difficult to convert to new systems and interfaces. Microsoft wants to run everything on their own servers by applications coming in over wires. Microsoft runs into problems on initial releases but usually gets it “righter” on the third try. They want to make it so you either get your applications done by Microsoft directly or by a “trusted” partner working very closely with them.
The problem is that it is a problem to put all of the information you have available together. Microsoft has a lot of talented people working on the problem. Another version is to have the capability available in “The Cloud” with internet service applications. If everything is available on the internet then all you need is to be able to identify yourself and find yourself with your full set of applications available for use.
XML is completely device neutral protocol neutral content descriptive language. It has been resistant to being hijacked by graphics arts people because they consider it ugly. It was slowed down in its spread because it used more resources, but this has been less of a problem with advances in broadband capability.
Two guys with laptops in India can become software developers in a matter of weeks by using online resources. They can simulate the interactive experience and write debug code. They can run on data centers provided by other people at much lower cost than providing their own systems. There has been a total change in the economics and geopolitics of the software industry. Access to capital is no longer an issue. In many respects Microsoft is out there ahead of this process. Microsoft has a degree granting institution in Beijing, China. One Microsoft lab is the single biggest world graphics provider. Graphics don’t require much language capability so it is a good choice for international development. People who said Microsoft is on its knees have been wrong in the past. Peter isn’t going to say they are but they are facing major changes in their environment and are going to have to react to it.
Jane Harman (California Representative) said many people are ready to retire from the Aerospace industry and it is hard to find talent. Talent is easy to find in places like India, but much of the Aerospace industry may not be able to use it because of security requirements.
Think of software as a bundle of services. Bill Gates was talking about this idea in the 1980’s. Use standardized interfaces so people can easily implement it to add valuable. One problem was that this made some systems vulnerable to viruses. The idea was good but there were implementation problems. There are more marketing and pricing problems than technical problems. This has provided many new business opportunities. Amazon makes money not just by selling books, but by providing access to books that are not easily available. Ebay provides an incredible market place that is actually a bundle of software services.
Peter will be discussing other issues in detail in the main part of his talk, including the presidential election. He says more important things are not usually discussed during the campaign which concentrates on talking about putting lipstick on pigs and the personal life of candidates.
Privacy including passwords and phone numbers can easily be purchased if someone is willing to give away very small, inexpensive items. People’s desire for privacy is easily shown to be low by simple testing. The modern internet world is getting to be like a small town where everyone can find out things about everyone else. Employers can easily eliminate some candidates for jobs by reading their FaceBook pages when they post embarrassing information themselves.
At this time the Round Table discussion was ended and their was a break for food.
(After the meeting Peter Coffee handed me his notes from the meeting that I am providing in this report. He did not repeat verbally much of what is on the charts, but added other astute commentary. I will attempt to add his comments to these notes.)
Peter said that things fall into 4 bins and is not going to provide a linear narrative. There is a lot of discussion about what is happening out in the cloud. People use that to mean many different things. Peter found 2,256 separate items searching on the phrase “Cloud Computing”. It is not being talked about in terms of technology as much as in terms of money. There are 4 distinctive types of cloud and you don’t want to buy the wrong version. It could be like trying to go into an auto parts shop, buy parts and assemble a Ferrari. Information transfer can be compared to electrical grids, but the analogy is not very good. Clusters are an even older idea accomplished by using VAX or Mac clusters to do tasks. Clusters tend to be a single type of node on a specific finite configuration and you compile the code to use that number of nodes. Adding new nodes required recompiling the configuration. Virtual servers are cool but you still have the same problems you have putting code on a real server. Management remains a difficult problem.
The Cloud system prevents you from becoming locked into something unless you download proprietary software to be used on your own machine, but why bother? IBM is spending $300 million on building 13 data centers around the world and HP is providing software to connect data centers. We are getting far beyond simple packet processing. Some bank systems may be using a data center in the Cloud without realizing it. Users have access to as much computing as they need to do their jobs and they may have no idea where their jobs are being processed. Many privacy laws requiring that things be processed within political boundaries are not enforceable and don’t make sense. You can have situations where the data is all stored encrypted in one location, but accessible only by a key in the possession of a person in another country. California requires people be notified of leaks of unencrypted data but not data that is encrypted. The problem is that encryption is not defined so it is covered by virtually any kind of encryption whether it is strong or not. Until there is case law none of these rules mean anything. Perhaps it might be better to use general fraud laws to prosecute computer data crimes. Absence of “due care” is a concept that has been around for a long time.
The way we have done computing for the last 50 years is no longer valid. If a company claims they are not using internet computing they probably don't know everything that is going on in their company. By 2011 everyone will believe they can't afford to put up a new data center. New data centers require very high power consumption. The saving grace is that Cloud computing provides a definite cost advantage. No one wants a copier, everyone wants copies and it might be cheaper to request copies on line and get your copies delivered to your door.
Google Chrome opens a window and does not look like a browser. It is a vehicle for delivering a web application. Chrome is reconceptualizing what the browser is and is more about the gestalt than it is about the technology.
High Level Tech
Low level technology is alive and well. There is the continued thrashing of the microprocessor industry to try to make something useful of the new capabilities provided by Moore’s which provide not necessarily more computer speed, but more usable transistors on a chip. It is not possible to break all processes into separately processed modules.
Low Tech Level
This gets to be a real problem.
Virtualization is deployed in all Fortune 100 companies and 80% of Fortune 1,000 companies.
Some companies believe that virtual machines are more secure than physical machines, but this is not true.
Products and Markets
High level technology.
Products and Markets
Microsoft Office has been entrenched for years, but is now facing much more competition from software services. Google provides the capability of several people to work on the same document at the same time. Office 2007 by default provides file format that are not readable by earlier unless they download a conversion system. People don’t want to do extra things, they just want to open the files. Star and Open Office are available, but they don’t open all Microsoft files correctly so quite a few people don’t want to use them. There are many things that are provided free, but have other disadvantages.
Free sometimes has its own costs.
If your system doesn’t make sense in China it probably doesn’t make sense anywhere.
Governments and Environments
Citizen Relationship Management?
This is the same city that allowed Terry Childs, the only person with the “root password” to stop some city vital functions.
New South Wales is moving over a million users to Gmail. Google likes it but doesn’t think it is a big deal.
(This report was made using his notes, my notes from his talk, and an audio-tape of his speech. This write-up is not a transcript of his remarks and leaves out many interesting and entertaining side remarks. I did not include some commentary that was thoroughly covered in his notes. Peter did not have time to comment on some interesting things such as Cyberwar that are explained in his notes.)
If you wish to comment on this report send your message to:
This was first meeting of the LA Chapter year and was attended by about 49 persons.
|And coming in October . . . It is a return to the Professional Mixer Format. Come and have dinner with other members, discuss current computing events, or just enjoy a good meal an listen to others talk.||
The Los Angeles Chapter will meet this September on the second Wednesday, Sept. 10th, at The Spitfire Grill, 3300 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405, (310) 397-3455. (Click here for a map.)
Directions to the Restaurant:
From South: 405 North exit National Blvd. Turn left (West). Travel west to Bundy Dr. Turn Left (South). Proceed to Airport Ave. Turn right. Restaurant will be on your left.
From North: 405 South to west 10. Travel west to Bundy Dr. Exit to Bundy south. Proceed to Airport Ave. Turn right. Restaurant will be on your left.
The September 8th mixer will be held at the El Segundo Fish Company ( Check here for location info.).
The Schedule for September 8th is
5:30 p.m. Council Meeting (at LMU, Doolan Hall)
6:30 p.m. Dinner & Mixer at the El Segundo Fish Company
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No resevations are required for the September 8th Professional Mixer. You are on your own for dinner, but join us for the networking.
The Schedule for September 10th is
6:30 p.m. Roundtable Q&A
7:00 p.m. Food
7:30 p.m. Presnetation
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Reservations are required for the September 10th Meeting. Call Mike Walsh at (818)785-5056, or send email to
Mike Walsh with your name and telephone number by Sept. 7th.
If you have any questions about the meeting, call Mike Walsh at (818)785-5056, or send email to Mike Walsh .
For membership information, contact Mike Walsh,
(818)785-5056 or follow this
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Please visit our website for meeting dates, and news of upcoming events.
For further details contact the SIGPHONE at (310) 288-1148 or at Los_Angeles_Chapter@siggraph.org, or la.siggraph.org/html/index.htm
Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN) Groups
Check out some other interesting software groups in the Los Angeles area, which also hold frequent technical meetings.
Southern California SPIN Web Page
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