I was told recently, regarding my job, “Sure, that’s great, but you’re not a brain surgeon or anything”. And while that’s true (I wouldn’t let me near anyone’s head with anything sharper than a tennis ball), it doesn’t mean that the role that I, or you as ITPA members, have is not worthy of praise, or that we are not important in our society.
Many of us would know a time in our lives where we had dedicated devices for specific functionalities:
- An SLR or (later) a DSLR camera (or a 35 mm consumer camera, and some of us probably even remember 110 cameras as well).
- A video camera of some description — film, cartridge or later digital.
- A calculator for doing mathematical work that we couldn’t easily solve in our heads.
- A Walkman/Discman/MP3 player for music (and the associated media).
- A GPS device.
- Train/bus tickets/passes.
- A Rolodex or address book for storing contact details.
- A calendar or diary for recording dates/times of appointments or events.
- A pedometer for counting steps/tracking fitness.
- A Dictaphone or similar for taking voice notes.
These days, most of us carry a mobile phone that does all these things for us, and more. We generally don’t even think about it — we just take it for granted that we no longer have to pay for, maintain and lug around a large bag full of dedicated devices.
You will have heard of ‘software-defined X’ lately, where a service or capability previously deployed using dedicated hardware has been replaced with commodity hardware and significant software ‘smarts’ to enable an end result to be delivered.
As IT people, this is pretty easy to comprehend for many of us. It’s become par for the course and, at times, we dismiss it as ‘just something we do’. But think about it for a minute, and the wonder behind it becomes apparent.
So, the next time someone asks you what your industry does for society, talk to them about their mobile phone. And then explain to them that the same processes that resulted in the hyper-converged computing platform are now being echoed in the IT industry, and the results of that work are, amongst other things, enabling those complex brain surgeries to take place safely and successfully.