|By Michael Bushong||
|March 17, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
Uber is doing their part to disrupt an industry that hasn’t seen much innovation in decades. And for cities whose public transportation is only moderately effective, the change cannot come fast enough. But what is Uber actually providing? And based on that, what are they competing for?
With any ride service, the temptation is to think of the business primarily as shuttling people to and fro. Accordingly, people building out this type of business have focused on adding ride capacity. For cab companies, this meant adding additional vehicles. Cab drivers are basically renting the cabs from the owners. For cab companies, the business more closely approximates property rental than anything else. And given the wages for drivers and the general way they are treated, it is probably not a surprise that cab owners have a reputation not unlike slumlords.
So you take an industry that is generally reviled in many major cities (New York stands out as an exception here) and you fail to really evolve the business model for decades, and you end up with something that is ripe for disruption.
Enter Uber. But what is Uber really doing?
They aren’t going out and buying a fleet of cars like the cab companies and black car services that have cropped up. Uber is really not about transportation. What they have done is create a clever way to identify available capacity in the system, and then deploy that capacity as needed.
If you look at where Uber is most successful, it is in cities where cab service is dreadful. By dreadful, I mean that it is difficult to get a cab in a timely fashion. Take San Francisco, for instance. Getting a cab in SF can be nigh impossible. Even when you call central dispatchers, wait times can be atrocious. And if you are trying to use a cab on a high-volume night, you are better off packing some comfortable shoes and hoofing it around the city. For San Francisco, Uber represents a painless way to get just-in-time delivery of a ride service.
Because Uber’s business is around discovery and redeployment of capacity, the real competition for Uber is not for fares. To scale their business, they need access to more fluid ride capacity. The more capacity they have in the system, the better their deployment service. They can extend their reach and shorten the time-to-wait for a ride service. This means that the real fight Uber needs to win is the one for drivers. It’s not the cab companies so much as the other ride sharing services (like Lyft) that threaten to cap Uber’s ability to add additional capacity.
So what does this have to do with IT infrastructure?
IT infrastructure generally (and data centers in particular) are about providing resources to satisfy application or tenant workload requirements. The capacity required takes three general forms: compute, storage, and networking. The objective is not merely providing some aggregate capacity but rather pairing that capacity with a specific demand. And as cloud continues to grow, it is increasingly about providing just-in-time delivery of that capacity.
On the compute and storage side, we have solved a big part of this challenge. Virtualization essentially frees up compute resources, which means that application workloads can be satisfied as-needed through application portability. If you need additional horsepower, you launch a new application instance on a VM that resides on some server with capacity to give. In this context, the dispatching of available capacity is moving the application workload to a server. And tools like DRS allow for the definition of resource pools that can then be allocated as needed.
But what about the networking side?
To date, the networking world has evolved in much the same way as the cab companies. The game has always been about adding addition cabs to the fleet (more capacity to the network). And while we can use monitoring tools to determine where capacity is not being fully utilized, there is no simple means of dispatching that capacity to where it is needed. Additionally, even the tools we have to shape paths are not particularly well-suited for providing just-in-time capacity.
There is an opportunity in the networking space to move in this direction. SDN as a movement provides a couple of tools that are architecturally necessary if this is to become a reality. A central controller is a logical way to locate available capacity. With a global view of the network as a resource, the controller is in a unique position to see how the physical transport is actually being used.
But imagine using Uber if it only told you where the available cars were but could not dispatch them to you. Without performing both actions – locating and dispatching – the service is incomplete. So it is in networking. Knowing where capacity resides is interesting but not terribly useful. The network needs the ability to dispatch that capacity to suit the applications. And one final point, whether dispatching occurs in the moment or at a scheduled time is dependent on the needs of the customers (applications or tenants, in this case).
Ultimately, what Uber is doing is actually quite impressive. But there is subtlety in the strategy and the innovation. The whole of IT might be able to learn a bit from Uber’s creativity.
[Today’s fun fact: A hippo can open its mouth wide enough to fit a 4 foot tall child inside. Some facts are just cool on their own.]
WHOA.com has announced the newest addition to its data center footprint with the expansion into Equinix's newest state-of-the-art facility: DC-11 Washington, DC IBX+. Located in Ashburn, VA, this data center expands Whoa.com's presence to meet rapidly expanding customer demand for secure cloud solutions. Equinix, Inc. operates International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in 32 markets across 15 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific. Equinix is committed to operating faciliti...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,006
SYS-CON Events announced today that FierceDevOps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FierceDevOps keeps software developers and IT operations personnel updated on the latest news and trends around the rapidly evolving role of the traditional IT worker.
Mar. 28, 2015 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,350
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being pre...
Mar. 28, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,774
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabili...
Mar. 28, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,383
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
Mar. 27, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,417
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Mar. 27, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,107
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things...
Mar. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,705
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,666
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,338
Modern Systems announced completion of a successful project with its new Rapid Program Modernization (eavRPMa"c) software. The eavRPMa"c technology architecturally transforms legacy applications, enabling faster feature development and reducing time-to-market for critical software updates. Working with Modern Systems, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) leveraged eavRPMa"c to transform its Student Information System from Software AG's Natural syntax to a modern application lev...
Mar. 27, 2015 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 673
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Mar. 27, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,959
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 916
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,608
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,353
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,167
Businesses are looking to empower employees and departments to do more, go faster, and streamline their processes. For all workers – but mobile workers especially – utilizing the cloud to reconnect documents and improve processes without destructing existing workflows can have a dramatic impact on productivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mark Grilli, vice president of Acrobat Solutions marketing at Adobe Systems Incorporated, will outline new ways that the cloud is changing the way peo...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,194
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
Mar. 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,671
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, g...
Mar. 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,514
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes ...
Mar. 27, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,113
Are your applications getting in the way of your business strategy? It’s time to rethink your IT approach. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Madhukar Kumar, Vice President, Product Management at Liaison Technologies, will discuss a new data-centric approach to IT that allows your data, not applications, to inform business strategy. By moving away from an application-centric IT model where data integration and analysis are subservient to the constraints of applications, your organization will b...
Mar. 27, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,465