Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Of Clouds, PCs, and zEC12s

Earlier this week I read about the, like, serious arrival of The Cloud in computing—meaning that someone maintains computers and memories that we just access from afar—yesterday came news of IBM’s unveiling of a new mainframe computer, zEnterprice EC 12 (zEC12). One of its uses, of course, is to host lots of lots of clouds. With that we have once more closed a circle—because what goes around, comes around. Almost as if to put a seal on that, HP stock was turning squeeshy because, in crude summary, the PC is dead.

To be sure, the PC market is still vast, but the sex-appeal is gone. PCs have turned into commodities. But we still need them to talk to The Cloud. It’s sort of analogous to saying that when we pray we pray to God, not to the prayer rug—and the PC has turned into a mere rug.

Meanwhile I had begun to fear for the future of the Smartphone. Now that these little smaller-than-your big ham palm devices have more power than my HP Pavilion 6647c PC, smartphones have nowhere to go. Here comes zEC12 to give them a new challenge. “Miniaturize me!” says the zEC12 proudly—“do that and you’ll be a real telephone.”

The name of my computer, by the way, does sound rather grand: HP Pavilion on and on and on PC. Reminds me of aristocracies that have come down in stature—some Russian Princess living in penury in Paris handing out towels at up-scale public toilets. I am sad for you, dear Pavilion; but the lineage of nobility is still visible on your careworn features—while in the small, sturdy, abstract black cabinet of the zEC12 I detect its lineage too—the great monsters that used to take up most of a floor in office buildings.

Yes. What goes around. One of these days even the humble abacus will be back in place of honor, but that might take a little longer.

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