For going on four years now, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that the future of consumer computing is utility computing, and that once that hits the home market, corporate adoption won't lag far behind. Most people I tell this to think I'm crazy, because all my associates who understand what I'm talking about are PC nuts and can't imagine giving up the ability to tinker under the hood of their systems. Those who aren't PC freaks have no idea what utility computing is, so their eyes just glaze over and they adopt the "Jay is geekingout over something obscure again" expression, and the conversation just dies.
So, for those in the latter camp, utility computing is to individual computing as cable TV is to satellite TV. Instead of buying all the equipment (dish, PC) and being responsible for all your own maintenance and upgrades, you simply pay a monthly bill and the vendor is responsible for providing all the hardware (PC, cable box) and guaranteeing a certain set of features (channels, e-mail). Of course, like satellite TV vs. cable, both sides have their pros and cons and both groups have their fans. Me, I'm a cable TV guy, because I like the simplicty, cost certainty, level cashflow, and ability to cancel at any time, and I think there's a hugely untapped market for this stuff parallel to the traditional PC market, especially for the AOL crowd who just want to surf, do e-mail, and download pictures of the grandkids without screwing around with buffer overflows and driver conflicts.
And no, Mac fans, Apple is not the answer, because it costs too darn much, and Apple is the absolute worst about forcing OS upgrades with crappy backward compatibility. Apples may be fresh out of the box, but they stale very quickly—way too quick for their price.
So, why am I rambling about utility computing? Because the always influential and controversial Nicholas G. Carr has made tech headlines by professing that utility computing will invade the corporate space in very short order. I love it when heavyweights come around to my way of thinking.
Yeah, it's all about me, really.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.