Technology is completely reshaping both our personal lives and business activities. We are living in an era where the rate of technological evolution outpaces our adoption rate. We are soon going to be living in a world where technology completely automates the way we live and change our lives in ways we cannot comprehend today. As a first step towards this change, we are going to see different technologies converging together to form what I want to call as Computing Convergence. I see a convergence of cloud computing aided by open source, mobile, etc., with social computing and semantic web to completely change the way we manage our personal lives, do business, etc..
I saw the first baby steps towards this evolution when I watched Enterasys (see our collaboration case study on how Enterasys is using social technologies to their advantage) demo their latest innovation, Isaac, which is still a pre-release project. They have tied together their network management tools to work with social technologies like Chatter, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Whether we like it or not, social networking and mobile has become part of our daily lives. In this changed scenario, any smart infrastructure should let their users tap these tools as a part of their daily work.
Enterasys saw this shift and they wanted to offer network admins an easy way to monitor and manage their network though these social tools and from the devices they use everyday like smartphones, tablets, etc.. The net result is Isaac project, a way for IT machines to communicate out their status and receive commands back from an IT administrator. This will enable IT to stay ahead of any potential networking issues and raise the bar on delivering high quality service level agreements. This is a forward looking approach taken by a vendor who themselves use such technologies for their daily activities.
Some of the benefits offered by this system include:
- Provides IT with the ability to communicate with networked machines via natural language and in their native tongue
- Enables a social media savvy IT workforce to use the medium they’re most comfortable with in tackling network issues
- Gives network devices and assets the ability to initiate bi-directional communication with IT for faster, predictive problem resolution, resulting in higher quality of service
- Includes strong security controls for end-to end-communication
- Ensures fast, easy deployment into any existing infrastructure
But let us also keep in mind that network security is a mission critical one. We cannot just open up the social networks to access the critical pieces of the infrastructure. Enterasys has taken steps to add layers of security and control necessary to maintain the enterprise grade security. It is still in early stages and I am sure they will be adding more layers of security and control before it is generally available. Right now, Isaac can be deployed with three levels of security
- Public SM (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) read-only access
- Public Social Media read-write access with two factor authentication
- Enterprise social media (Salesforce.com Chatter)
It is an interesting start towards a future which myself and other pundits envision to happen in the near future through a convergence of seemingly disparate technologies. I am pretty sure we are going to see criticism about moving a critical piece of enterprise IT (network monitoring) into the social tools. Yes, this is definitely not a tool for conservative organizations who don’t want to put even a single bit outside their firewall or want their employees to not use social tools. Heck, there are not many enterprises who are actively using social networking tools to its fullest potential today. If you tell them that they can use these tools to find critical IT information like the status of their infrastructure, etc., they will freak out big time. But, we all know that any change is hard and these tools will be first adopted by progressive organizations and those without strict regulatory needs. I think that over a period of time, as these technologies mature to meet the stringent needs of some of the enterprise customers, they will be all pervasive. It is too early for me to predict whether Enterasys will succeed in their attempt to humanize the networks (as they like to call their efforts) but this is definitely a first step in that direction.
- Using Facebook to Manage your Enterprise Network with Enterasys (readwriteweb.com)
- Social Business Case Study: Enterasys Networks’ Use of Chatter (cloudave.com)
- Salesforce.com’s Benioff pushes ‘social enterprises’ (infoworld.com)