Thoughtful bits is a monthly summary of technologies and solutions that may have an significant impact on business or society. My hope is this information will help you understand the possibilities of what can be achieved and inspire you to expand your expectations and solve hard problems.

Thoughtful bits is posted on the 8th day of each month. The list of technologies and solutions will be short for two reasons: the focus will be on what’s potentially impactful (there may not be a lot to share); and keeping the list to a minimum will reduce clutter and allow you to think more deeply about the content provided (less is more).

If you have technologies or solutions you would like to share, leave a comment. Your contributions are welcomed!

Enabling Technologies

  1. Li-Fi
  2. Laser-Radios

Potentially Impactful Solutions

  1. Ravello Systems
  2. Code@Facebook
  3. RES Software

Thought Provoking Points of View

  1. Peter Thiel: Solving Hard Problems – Peter Thiel challenges technology professionals to focus on solving big problems within society. There are big problems to solve and very few organizations are working to solve them. Large organizations (won’t call any names) work to preserve profits and maintain status quo rather than solve big problems. These thoughts are consistent with our premise that technology should be used to improve business outcomes and better society – innovation is key. Hopefully executives that read Peter Thiel’s book (Zero to One) will be inspired to take on the challenge.
  2. Seth Godin’s Perspective on What Matters – I truly believe that being successful in technology is more about understanding how to apply it than the technology itself. I don’t want to give the impression that understanding the technology isn’t important, it is. The interview referenced in this link is less about technology and more about what it takes to be effective. We are living in evolutionary times and understanding how to be successful in the post-industrial, post-geography age requires a more thoughtful approach. Collaboration (breaking down silos), establishing and maintaining meaningful connections, and the ability to create is vital for us to thrive. Additionally, the ability to focus on what matters and understand shifts is more important than ever. This talk is thoughtful and enlightening – worth your time.

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Enabling Technologies

1. Li-Fi

What is it? Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) has been evolving for the last two years. Some researchers believe the light bulb will be multi-purpose in the future with one purpose being a network transceiver. Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology that provides network connectivity for most IP enabled devices (personal computer, mobile devices, etc.). This emerging technology uses Li-Fi access points to modulate intensity of LED lamps (modulation not perceptible to the human eye). A receptor on the target device receives the signal and converts it to a stream of data. There are several approaches to deliver Li-Fi networks (reference links below).

What is the value? Li-Fi technologies compete with Wi-Fi. The differentiator is better security and simplicity. Li-Fi provides better security as the localized signal reduces the ability to eavesdrop. Ultimately Li-Fi solutions are easier to deploy and it’s not known at this time if it will translate to lower cost.

Where does it apply? Li-Fi is currently targeted for small businesses and home use. Eventually the technology will apply to enterprises of all sizes.

When will it be commercially available? Products are in development and beginning to enter the marketplace. Research is continuing and mature solutions will be available mid-late 2015.

Reference Links:

Non-Technical Reference – Si Soft Li-Fi, gizmag Article 

Technical Reference – LiFi Consortium, Pure LiFi,  IEEE Article

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2. Laser-Radios

What is it? Laser-radios combine optical communications with millimeter wave radio frequencies (Extremely High Frequency operating in 30 – 300GHz range) to output an error-free signal and performance that’s greater than both technologies combined. The improved performance is accomplished by using proprietary algorithms to combine the raw data from both signals. AOptix is the pioneer of this technology.

What’s the value? Laser-radio technology eliminates the cost to build out fiber (significant cost reduction) while increasing bandwidth and decreasing latency. This technology will improve wireless coverage and bring services to new areas. (We have operations in very remote areas and this technology has the potential to greatly increase bandwidth and improve service reliability.)

Where does it apply? The technology will bring value to enterprises and society in general by lowering the cost for backhauls and expanding the coverage areas. The financial industry is particularly interested in this technology due to the ultra low latency potential. AOptix has partnered with Anova Technologies to build out a network for trading companies to access the stock market. This technology has several other use cases that solve real problems:

  • Provide ad-hoc networks for entertainment venues (e.g., football games, concerts). These venues require a significant bandwidth increase for short periods of time.
  • Financial organizations are constantly looking to reduce latency to near-zero. This technology has very low latency and the right price point.
  • Last mile access for building. Real estate companies (e.g., Jones Lang LaSalle) can leverage this technology to provide services for their tenants. Currently 60% of building don’t have fiber and this is a cost effective and timely way to close the gap.
  • Laser-radio is excellent for fiber diversity. Trenching and pulling fiber to alternate paths is expensive and time consuming, and doesn’t ensure 100% availability. Laser-radios can provide and alternate path cost effectively and in a much shorter period of time.

When will it be commercially available? The technology is available today. Several carriers are running trials.

Reference Links:

Non-Technical Reference: MIT Technology Review Arcticle, AOptixHigh Frequency Trading Article

Technical Reference: AOptix Research Summary

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Potentially Impactful Solutions

Please note, this is not an endorsement of any products or services. The content is intended to provide background information and raise awareness. Your research and analysis should determine if the solution solves a real business problem in your environment.

1. Ravello Systems

What is it? Ravello Systems is a solution that enables transparent use of the public cloud for development and test environments. Their technology, cloud application hypervisor, uses nested virtualization to host VMware virtual machines (VMs) in a AWS, Google, HP Cloud, and Rackspace cloud environment (see Ravello Systems for a complete list). Ravello provides a management layer to create “application definitions” that captures  a single representation of the relevant application, storage, and network components so it can be deployed to the cloud. Ravello leverages software-defined technologies to deliver this service.

What’s the value? Ravello enables the ability to implement hybrid cloud for test and development. Organizations don’t have to be concerned with semantics such as VM formats, network configuration, storage setup, and VM migration. They mask the complexity of hybrid cloud implementation while at the same time providing options so you aren’t locked in to one cloud provider.

Where does it apply? Any organization interested in leveraging the cloud for test and development should give Ravello consideration. I came across the service when researching Docker container implementation. Yes, they provide container options as well.

When is it commercially available? The product is available now.

Reference links: Ravello Systems

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2. Code@Facebook

What is it? This entry is a bit different because it’s not solution specific. The point is to raise awareness of tools made available by Facebook. We recognize Facebook as a pioneer in social media but has become an excellent technology company. As with most massive scale web providers Facebook has worked hard to develop open source tools to help them meet their customer demands in the most effective and efficient manner. The more prominent open source projects are React, HHVM, AsyncDisplayKit, and presto. There is other work sponsored by Facebook (e.g., Open Compute Project) but our focus is on software development.

What’s the value? The tools provided by Facebook help developers produce quality code and improve their efficiently. Improving code quality is absolutely critical as it decreases vulnerabilities and improves user experience. Any tool that contributes to improvements in these areas have tremendous value. React is a JavaScript library that helps developers develop better user interfaces. Flow is a static type checker for JavaScript that helps developers be more productive and more easily identify quality issues.

Where does it apply? These tools are relevant to any organization developing web based solutions – scale doesn’t matter.

When is it commercially available? These open source tools are available now.

Reference links: Code@Facebook, React, Flow, PCWorld Flow Article

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3. RES Software

What is it? My vision of End User Computing is a self-service environment that adapts to user context. The client should sense the environment and adjust settings accordingly. For example, if your CMO is in the airport his/her client should never show available Wi-Fi (or Li-Fi) networks – don’t tempt them. Leaders that frequently handle business sensitive information should never be presented with options to access highly vulnerable untrusted networks. This is just a simple example where context matters. RES Software provides a solution to provide this capability along with addressing self-service and automating IT tasks such as onboarding. One feature that is of particular note is the ability to track and manage software licensing compliance. If you’ve ever endured a Microsoft “software assessment” you’d appreciate this capability.

What’s the value? The value of the RES Software solutions is a simplified user experience, improved user and IT productivity, and the ability to better manage software licensing costs. There are several other solutions that provide some of this capability. The RES Software differentiator is simplicity of solution deployment and management – don’t need an army and it doesn’t take man-years worth of effort to begin realizing value.

Where does it apply? This solution applies to all organizations from SMB to large enterprises. Health care organizations has been quick to adopt RES because there is a higher sensitivity to context.

When is it commercially available? The product is available now.

Reference links: RES Software

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Posted by Karl

One Comment

  1. LiFi holds serious promise for remote locations where power is available but network connectivity isn’t available or reliable. Looking forward to its commercialization. Our company and customers would benefit.

    Reply

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