How are operating systems maturing and where are they going? As apps become web-apps what is the future of the browser, OS and hardware? Find out as Ali Jelveh details just how he sees the crossroads of operating systems.
Hi. My name is Ali Jelveh. I am the Chief Revolutionary Officer of Protonet and we are the creators of the world’s first one button social infrastructure but I am not here to talk about what we built but rather share some thoughts, observations and predictions on the future of computing.
When we talk about computing, there is one very fundamental part to it and that is operating system. We are going to have a look at what might happen next. All devices run them. I believe them really to be a critical part. I believe that we are on the verge of a new dawn. I truly believe that a massive shift is coming and that everybody in the room knows it. You can feel it. You can literally see the pieces coming together of this new thing that is just at the door step. I would say that nobody exactly knows what is going to happen or when for that matter but you can almost touch it. Now, if nature teaches us one thing, it is that it is unpredictable. It is chaotic. It is going to be really hard to say what is going to happen next. Remember, of course, everything that we build is also part of nature. So, the chaos part is obviously also a part of that.
I will be presenting my case with free exhibits – a possible scenario and a choice. A choice not unlike the one that looks Skywalker had to make.
Exhibit A: Operating System Maturity and the Maturity Paradox
I am postulating that the current breed of operating systems has reached maturity and there is only one direction to go when you reach maturity. That is down. As an example, I am going to bring up OSX. I know everybody loves Apple. I do, too. I have been working with OSX since 10.0. You could really see from 10.0 to 10.1, the speed increases, the ease of use increases, the stability increases. All those things get a lot better. It continues and continues through 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 and then things start to get a little bumpy. It gets a little slower. There were some useless additions but still some free awesome stuff in there. You would say, “No worries.” It is still looking pretty good. People at Apple know what they are doing. Then, came Lion. The ratio of usefulness to annoyingness at least for me became much worst so did the performance. I felt like Lion was jumping the shark. To prevent people from saying that I am here to bash Apple, that is not true. I am not talking about Windows because Windows is like a zombie. It is not dead. It is not alive. It is just the sheer will power and money of Microsoft. It is just keeping that thing afloat. Then, you have Linux. Linux is getting better by the day. They are working on the graphical user interfaces. They are becoming pretty cool but I think they are going to be obsolete by the time they are going to be really awesome. To illustrate, I mean this graph. That is a Lion. It was pretty tough to find the Lion jumping because they seem to always rest. It was a tough one.
Exhibit B: The Cycles
Let us go to Exhibit B: The Cycles. If you take a historical view of what is happening in the IT industry and with all these technologies is that you see a certain pattern. It starts in 1950s, 1960s with mainframes. Since everybody here is probably a geek and knows what mainframes are. You would rent some time on a big computer server form at some university of a company and you would use a teletype to do some stuff on it. Some people then thought, “Technology is advancing. Let us take some of those technologies and put into a package and give it to people directly so they do not have to work, rent time and use the teletype and all that kind of stuff.
Then, came the PC. I call it personal mainframe. It was actually a company that personal mainframes. You get bonus points if anyone here knows what company that was. NeXT. NeXT Computers’ goal was to create personal mainframes. So, if you take a NeXT computer, turn it around and it says Personal Mainframe. Right now, from the power aspect of these things, what we have here is a huge data center or couple of data centers in these things.
Then, came the cloud. I believe the cloud is not to be something that in its current form will be surviving eternity but as everything else, it would change. The real question is what is going to happen next?
Exhibit C: The New Apps
To really understand what is going to happen next, I am going to show Exhibit C: The New Apps. This one is the most interesting one of all 3. We start to live in a multi-device world where there is normally for every one of useveryone has a smart phoneand iPad and maybe some other devices. It is just pretty natural to us but it was not natural back then when operating systems were designed. Back then, you thought a system needs an app that runs on that system and if you have data, it is on that system. When you go into a multi-device world, you start to run into problems when you look at it that way. It is much easier to handle data and work with data if you have a server-client set up. You have your data on the master or server and you have clients connecting to that. Just with an address book. You have an address book at the center point like Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook and access it from anywhere. With the emergence of this great Web 2.0 and cloud apps, we see certain changes. That is what operating systems look like before. You have a small kernel. You have some drivers, some connectivity and some API pseudos things so you can connect to printers. Some use hard drive and that thing would give APIs to applications that run on top of it. When you get an OSX system/Windows system, you get a range of application from calendar, address book, text editor, iTunes and all those things. What is happening now is obviously this. People move these apps to web apps. What really happens now, the apps on the left side really become obsolete. You have to ask yourself will companies like Apple understand that these apps are obsolete and just stop developing them and just stop shipping and I believe they will not do that because they have their workforce of thousands of developers and you have processes and all these kind of things.
You do not go out and send 30% of the people home just because some punk said everything is going to go on service and stuff like that. They are trying to address these things with the iCloud and stuff like that but they are still delivering all these apps and all that code. If we look a little more a detail onto these things, we see that right now there is a lot that is happening on the server and a small part that is happening on the client. That is also something that is going to change. You are going to see with the emergence of these web apps and you have a code editor at once in the browser. You would expect that code editor to work whether you have a good connectivity or not. The first instance when you write code and suddenly it does not work anymore because somebody is walking by your wife or something like that, that will be the last time you use it. Most stuff has to be moved to the client. That means that there is all amounts of stuff running on the servers. If you just use basic functionality, maybe you can think of something like raise for degradation so you have an Excel something like a spreadsheet application where you can do the standard stuff and the complex stuff is still on the server but for standard usages, everything would run in the client. If you are such a standard user, the only thing you need that server for is for data syncing and data storage and stuff like that so you can access from any device. For me, I think with the server become less and less relevant, the real big questions is where will these things run? The number, I just pulled it out from my ass. I just want it to be big. If you ask most people, it is a pretty simple answer. It starts with A and it ends with WS but I believe that since it is becoming less complex and generally a small part of this tag, I think you can do really interesting things.
I think where you stand at crossroad. The crossroad is this. The questions is this, you have the choice to go between the control and the flow thereof or not having that. I would like to use an analogy that is from Dune – “He controls the information, controls the universe.” Information and flow of air is a lot like spice for those who know Dune. For example, let us look at TechForward. That is 150-200 people highly motivated with huge skillsets and generally anything you need to be really successful but if you have them work individually, I do not think that the projects they pull off would be possible. It is just you put in there a flow of information and people talk to each other and just individual people become a team and when you have a network like this one, teams start to communicate. You can communicate too much bigger networks. The most important thing here is data and information and the flow. It works for anything. You can have a group of individuals anywhere, a community at your home or any other place. Once communication start, information flows and people talk and coordinate things and if they even have a purpose even better, you can create basically anything. That is when you can change the world. I believe that this small part, this flow of information/communication is really the most relevant part. Then, you can do spaceships. We can build spaceships. You can change the world. All those things are possible. It goes back to spice. The question is something like this. The orange box is something we build because we believe that people should have a choice between these 2. You have Amazon Web Services or any other big centralized or partly decentralized thing or some device that is under your control. Another way to say it is this is a great piece of work from Paul Barren. He did some research on reliability and how infrastructure can withstand attacks and stuff like that and obviously distributed or those kind of systems or much more resilient to a text. When you see data/information/knowledge of the cornerstone of a healthy powerful society, it is only the decision become much more important. You can choose to create a world/community that is resilient or dependent or something that is much easier to disrupt and not doing good sense. It was a great ethical from Clay Shirky Our Group is its Own Worst Enemy where he was talking about how society and community is on a constant threat of disruption and downfall and all these things.
Basically for me, that is a question. We have built a society that is resilient or something that can be much more easily disrupted and not doing a good sense. It all goes back to the small piece of infrastructure. The question obviously is what will you choose? Light or darkness all these things? Thank you.