By Kemal A. Delic (with a bit of editing by his long time friend yours truly)
Ideas are the raw material of innovation driving development of products, services and technologies and the importance of them becomes obvious only after many years (let’s call it decade+ endurance test) or when they are transformed into global success and a major source of revenues (let’s call it hard proof). Wayne lamented recently on
Camelot days, we passed together depicting those rare periods of high spirit, ideas blossoming and great joy of creating something entirely new. Here, I will repaint those splendid moments while using a couple of published articles for illustration and make reference to (only) seven ideas which could have changed our world. I will conclude with a short verdict reflecting on those ideas from the modern era perspective many years later.
Very early, we have realized that sharing infrastructure and resources would be the best way to serve several hundreds of customers offering flexibility and cost advantages and that virtualization would be the key to that process. In today’s terms, it is a cloud computing platform which we conceived already in the year 2000 (1). Thus, our Radix system was created in order to manage this platform and provide end to end services. Even today, managing a variety of hybrid platforms is a very challenging problem. We also clearly outlined that those services are all characteristic of the ‘information utility’, transforming assets and resources into services. In today’s speak it is about UBER, AIR-BNB and economy of sharing.
Platform thinking required that we either remake or recreate several tools which were designed for the single customer, single language and single site. With more or less success we either adapted existing tools, created new tools or produced glue code to make the system of some of twenty tools working in harmony (Fig. below). As we observe the importance and dominance of global, hyper-scale platforms as in Google, Facebook or Twitter, we can be proud that we have produced this on a smaller scale and for a limited domain of outsourcing several years before. Still, this idea was very sound, as some tools we created at that time are still running on contemporary platforms.
Once we have our platform serving several hundred customers, we have focused our attention on performances. So, work on reliability, scalability, security and dependability has brought new insights into tools suitable to manage all those *-ilities and get a better understanding of how to architect, design and engineer platform in a coherent way. Several ideas have been implemented showing measurable improvements, but some of them were filed for patenting; creating a key portfolio of dozen of patents related to this platform work.
As we had a very crisp architectural separation of managing business versus managing platform, we advanced our work on performance versus the creation of ‘enterprise management analytics, which we will talk about more in the next posting to come. At that time ‘Intelligent Routing of Enterprise IT Events’ (2) has clearly outlined the importance of big data flows and outlined ideas for which we obtained US patent (US7263519) later.
Real-time message brokering was the key contribution to platform architecture augmented with the concept of ‘business cockpit’ — on which we have worked together with HP Labs and which was the key element for enterprise management analytics. At that time, we also worked on the concepts of ‘Intelligent Enterprise’, which will become the key element for advances in enterprise architecture work.
The power and importance of this concept are clearly highlighted in an HP partner’s use of the platform for the sales into Government accounts. Also, we have been honored that the concept we developed with our Labs has been mentioned in the remarkable The Two Seconds Advantage book. This is a good illustration of the lasting, valuable impact by strong external proof.
Having seen our platform growing and facing challenges of supporting big operations, we have extended the work on automation of support operations based on the principles outlined in our patent (3) (Drawing 4.). In simple terms, customer calling or mailing will be either supported by problem solutions from our knowledge base or pointed at an expert person to contact. Looking into contemporary question answering systems, advisory services and expert support, we can claim that we have been early on that path and obtained necessary protection for the eventual product/service growing out of it. We thought that the entirely new system could be created, not only AI-based question answering, as is Watson today, but also advising
as is ‘investment advisory’ function in finances. Those early seeds are described in the ‘Serving Knowledge’ article from August 12, 2002.
It is clear that we had too many ideas in that period and maybe lack of focus and effort on one or two especially promising ones would have a better outcome. Who knows? The big Internet bust happened at the turn of the century, so investments in this period have been radically reduced: in markets and by corporations. Thus, our development may have coincided with this unlucky period—or just bad timing.
We have been very aware of the fact that the big company global product success, one needs high-level executive sponsorship during prolonged periods, stubborn support and high career risk. We failed to obtain such an executive support. Jumping out of the golden cage and resetting private and professional lives while launching our own company was another way to materialize our ideas. But, simply said, we had not yet gotten the courage, stomach or big plans to do that risky voyage.
Finally, we may play now with heretic idea of re-visiting and re-considering those ideas in the new technological era and dramatically changed economic circumstances. Time will tell.
1. THE PERFECT BALANCE – Intelligent Enterprise – Vol. 14 No. 17 pp. 34-40. November 12, 2001, hard copy scan here: ie_2001_vol4_no170001.
2. INTELLIGENT ROUTING OF ENTERPRISE IT EVENTS, February 27, 2004
3. PATENT – PROCESS FOR SEARCHING A REPOSITORY OF RESOURCES, August 28, 2007