A decade ago, venture capitalist, Marc Andressen, said that “software is eating the world”. Since then, industry after industry has been disrupted by software, and increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) is eating the world. With technology evolving so quickly, it’s important to have computer systems that are prepared for the rapid evolutionary jumps that technology is bringing about. This is especially important when you realise that developments in software often far outstrip those in hardware. It becomes easy for computer systems to end up not fit for purpose as software evolves.
Technologically, perhaps the biggest software development of the last few years has been the mainstreaming of the cloud. However, computer systems were designed for older applications and hardware, and this leaves them vulnerable as newer applications and features emerge.
Professor Weiwei Jia, of the University of Rhode Island, has been working on the development of new clouds that are designed to meet these challenges. He has developed two systems, DASEC and GEMINI, that give us an insight into how computer systems should be prepared for new technologies.
DASEC is described as a “first task scheduler for edge computing”. Edge computing refers to distributed computing paradigms that bring computation and data storage nearer to data sources. In doing so, edge computing improves response times, and saves on bandwidth. It should be thought of as a framework or architecture, rather than as a specific technology. What DASEC does is to improve edge computing so that response times are even faster.
GEMINI is described as an “effective cloud memory management system”. Cloud is, of course, one of the most important technological developments of the last decade. From your music, photos and videos, to a chiropractor’s scheduling system, and a range of other domains, cloud has been a powerfully disruptive force, especially since the pandemic accelerated the shift to digital. Nevertheless, as the State of the Cloud 2022 report shows, cloud penetration remains low in a number of key verticals:
Source: Bessemer Venture Partners State of the Cloud 2022
Despite low penetration, adaptation is happening very quickly and already, a new generation of cloud technologies are emerging. GEMINI is aimed at data-hungry cloud apps, and seeks to improve their performance. This will impact AI, data analytics, and a range of other domains that have been built on or migrated to the cloud. They need to exist on the cloud because the size of the data makes on site physical storage unfeasible for most firms. However, their appetite for data can lead to a drag in performance. GEMINI will store this data and manage it in an efficient, performance-friendly way.
Systems managers have to be open to the range of new solutions that are emerging to help them build more responsive, adaptive and powerful computing systems. With technology evolving so quickly, it is incumbent on them to prepare their computing systems for evolving technology. However, these considerations have to be balanced against where the company is on the adoption scale. Legacy systems may not be open to very dramatic changes, and security concerns may limit the extent of change that is desirable. Consequently, what may suffice are hybrid solutions.