While there is no denying our worldwide economic slowdown is an impediment to change, don't fool yourself -- the world of high tech is not standing still. In fact, new challenges are arising regardless of whether your company is ready to face them.
IBM has a beauty of a challenge in the form of dynamic infrastructures. Part of IBM's aptly named Smart Planet initiative, the notion of the dynamic infrastructure wasn't invented simply to sell more products and services; it was brought about to reflect changes -- and challenges -- already in motion around us.
[ For more on the shifting role of IT in business, see "Why IT should get in the facilities business." ]
Of course, IBM will offer products and services to meet these challenges, but I'll leave it to Big Blue to tell you about that.
Dynamic infrastructures defined
The idea behind dynamic infrastructures centers on the integration of the digital and physical worlds -- or, if you like, the digital and physical infrastructures. As you might guess, the consequences of this integration will be profound.
Mainly this is about putting sensors everywhere and on every thing -- from bridges, to monitor wear and tear; to smoke stacks, to monitor power generation; to shipping containers, to monitor time and temperature; to "smart" electric meters, to monitor home power needs; to racks of servers and switches and routers, to monitor efficiency and quality of service.
And once the cat -- or the data that these sensors collect -- is out of the bag, there is no going back. Here's an example:
Cost savings reap IT chaos
Suppose you're in charge of a power plant that runs steam through pipes as a means of providing power throughout the day. Certainly, there are times of the day when you don't need as much steam. At these times, the steam gets dumped -- vented into a steam trap and then into the air. The more steam that is vented, the higher the vent whistle blows. So what if you used a sensor to monitor not the steam that is vented but the pitch of the whistle?
Now, say the power plant produces 1,000 pounds of steam, but at a certain time of day, only 700 pounds are needed, with the other 300 pounds being vented. Obviously, you could bring down your steam production, created by coal and fire, and the savings associated with that down by a third. Convinced by these numbers presented by a Honeywell salesperson, maybe with a guarantee from Honeywell on cost reductions, you agree to buy the aforementioned sensors at $1,000 per sensor.