|By Roger Strukhoff||
|March 10, 2011 12:24 AM EST||
In my continued effort to write about Cloud Computing and everything it touches, today I'd like to write about rubble, Sputnik, and the problem of fixing the habits of 300 million people and their $14-trillion economy.
In synopsis: We are sitting in rubble, there is no time to wait for a Sputnik moment, and fixing the American economy is going to take a long, hard pull.
Films. In Berkeley
One of the pleasures of living in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years was my access to the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. The screening of films that are too often termed "obscure" brought many revelations to an uneducated hick like me.
One of those pleasures, a grim one, was to sit through a number of the "Rubble Films" produced by West German filmmakers in the late 40s.
Set against the real backdrops of cities that had been bombed back to the Stone Age, the films captured the stark reality and angst of a people who had unwittingly shattered more than a millennium's worth of civilization in a few short years. They were now living in stunned semi-coherence in unimaginably rude circumstances.
Aid Rushes In
I watched these movies decades after they were made, of course, at a time when Germany had been unified and was once again an economic dynamo, if no longer allowed to be a military one. The "wirtschaftswunder," or economic miracle, had worked its way, the cities had been rebuilt, and modern German cinema was back to examining existential angst rather than the real thing.
The US doled out about $25 billion in post-war aid to help get West Germans get back on their feet. It sent about 10% of that amount (along with a new constitution) to do the same for Japan. That would amount to about $250 billion in today's dollars, but represents about $1.4 trillion when adjusted for the relative size of today's US economy.
ERP and TARP
The largest component of the aid to West Germany-the Marshall Plan-was officially known as Economic Recovery Plan, or ERP. That has a nice resemblance to our own recent, internal Marshall Plan, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
TARP had some scary numbers associated with it upfront, involving potential loans of about $700 billion, with no good idea if and when they would be repaid. The reality is that less than half of that amount was tapped, much of it paid back quickly, with a current estimate of its actual cost to taxpayers of about $25 billion. As with the Marshall Plan, it worked.
I ponder all this today when I look at the United States and its ongoing struggle to regain its economic footing. A recent report states that the US is now creating many new jobs, but few good ones. The report was replete with picture of a guy about my age standing in front of a McDonald's that he owns, in company shirt and nicely knotted tie.
Fun facts included the finding that 23% of jobs lost in The Great Recession were crappy ones, but 49% of new jobs in The Not-So-Great Recovery were of the crappy variety. The report further stated that workers received a paltry 0.3% of economic benefits from recent productivity gains, compared to an historic 58% share.
Some people will tell you that the destruction of unions is responsible for this and for the country's slide into economic mediocrity. Others will tell you that unions were the cause of good jobs fleeing the country.
I can tell you that I've been spending time in a place where 10 high-rise construction workers who recently plunged to their deaths because of safety violations were making about $6 for each 12-hour day. Many factory workers here earn less than that, even if their lives are less endangered.
The World As It Is Today
In other words, we still live in a world of almost unimaginably wide economic disparity. Today, that world is inextricably interconnected by global financial markets, global supply chains, and the Worldwide Web.
It's a world in which the natural principle of water seeking its own level-or electricity following the path of least resistance, or the movement of systems toward equilibrium-can be applied to the global economy.
So it seems that the difficult times for the US economy are hardly over. Cheap labor will continue to impact the US job scene in a big way, as country after country seeks to work its way up the economic ladder.
Stop Seeking the Fall Guy
In the 70s, Japan was blamed for stealing American jobs. More recently, it's been Mexico and China. Now that China is working to become a major importer-it just announced an annual trade deficit with the world-other countries will emerge as the fall guys.
Americans should not obsess about this. Instead, look to South Korea for inspiration. This nation is a strong ally, even as it approaches Japan in its ability to produce cars, flat-screen TVs, and computer chips. South Korea is also the world's dominant shipbuilder.
South Korea's economic miracle might be the most miraculous of all. Germany and Japan had already proven their economic might; their arrogance about it led to their catastrophic falls. But South Korea had not previously been an economic power before its recent ascension. Today, it stands as a model of how to do things the right way.
The right way includes a focus on the latest IT, and on an educational system that demands results.
There is, to be sure, a centralized industrial structure in South Korea--the "chaebol" conglomerates such as Hyundai, Samsung, and LG-that seems fundamental to success and won't be replicated in the US.
But the chaebol approach alone is not the magic bullet. These companies are prevented from owning banks, are targeted to specific products, and are in a constant tug-and-pull with the government to limit their power.
Most important, based on my observations there, is a certain urgency and restlessness among the people. Everyone seems to understand they need to get up and work hard, that their national interests are at stake every moment of the day. Maybe the crazy neighbor to the north is a motivating factor.
A Sputnik Moment Isn't Coming
And maybe that's what's missing in the US. President Obama recently said the US needs a new "Sputnik moment," ie, something that slaps Americans in the face and motivates them to recreate economic glory.
I doubt this sort of moment exists today. Our most recent big shock, the traumatic 9/11 attack, was met by a slack response to the enemy, a vainglorious foreign misadventure, and a propensity for domestic surveillance--something that the Obama Administration has done nothing to discourage.
Europeans often say that Americans don't understand real war because they've never had one on their soil. Perhaps these folks have never seen pictures of the American South after the Civil War.
As far as understanding rubble today, one only has to look at the shattered American industrial infrastructure in thousands of places. The term "Rust Belt" is no longer funny. Many parts of it provide good backdrops for modern-day Rubble Films. With no improvement in the US economy, these films will soon be playing in a location near all of us.
It's the Productivity, Stupid
Instead of waiting for a magical Sputnik moment, the nation needs to subject itself to a long, hard pull in the harness. Now, I'm certainly not the most successful plow horse around. I need to work harder. And smarter. Always.
Harder because that's the way life is. Smarter because mastery of modern technologies leads to productivity, and productivity drives economic success. The figures quoted above about sharing recent productivity-driven wealth are disheartening. Optimists may think they represent only the first stage of an overall recovery.
But who believes that the US will stage a real recovery in the short term? Even the German, Japanese, and South Korean economic miracles took decades. The real question to ask is, "where will we be 10 years and 20 years from now?"
Advice from the Old Man
For individuals, put the game console down for a bit. Stop showing off the iPhone and iPad-as the "my dad says" tweeter noted, "you didn't build it, you only bought it." Use them for something productive. Learn something. Stop watching everyone who's seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
For employers, hire people! Outsource when it's smart, but stop doing it reflexively (I know a lot of you do this). Stop using contractors and part-time employees to avoid health coverage. Stop the H1B visa scam. The US is staring down the chasm into a deflationary spiral right now, and really, you want no part of this. Oh, and use Cloud Computing whenever possible to gain those efficiencies and productivity gains you need to stay in business.
For our politicians, stop, Just stop. Your addictions to your jobs and entitlements are embarrassing. You make Americans sound stupid. And we're not, honestly. Either find a real job or act like you have one.
With over 720 million Internet users and 40–50% CAGR, the Chinese Cloud Computing market has been booming. When talking about cloud computing, what are the Chinese users of cloud thinking about? What is the most powerful force that can push them to make the buying decision? How to tap into them? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yu Hao, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, answered these questions and discussed the results of SpeedyCloud’s survey.
Jul. 27, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 934
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Jul. 27, 2016 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,742
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,241
"This week we're really focusing on scalability, asset preservation and how do you back up to the cloud and in the cloud with object storage, which is really a new way of attacking dealing with your file, your blocked data, where you put it and how you access it," stated Jeff Greenwald, Senior Director of Market Development at HGST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 27, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,513
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,575
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,423
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 27, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,715
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jul. 27, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,940
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
Jul. 27, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,001
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Jul. 26, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,006
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 26, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,579
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,363
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Jul. 26, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,099
"When you think about the data center today, there's constant evolution, The evolution of the data center and the needs of the consumer of technology change, and they change constantly," stated Matt Kalmenson, VP of Sales, Service and Cloud Providers at Veeam Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,370
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, discussed how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved efficienc...
Jul. 26, 2016 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,986
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 26, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,042
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
Jul. 26, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,139
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Jul. 26, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 344
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 26, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,934
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., and Logan Best, Infrastructure & Network Engineer at Webair, focused on real world deployments of DDoS mitigation strategies in every layer of the network. He gave an overview of methods to prevent these attacks and best practices on how to provide protection in complex cloud platforms. He also outlined what we have found in our experience managing and running thousands of Linux and Unix ...
Jul. 26, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,802