On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7. Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked “Why does it have to be so hard?” As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet. I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup. The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).
My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices. Basically a heterogeneous environment. Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually? Yes. The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby. It’s difficult to currently beat the Mac experience. Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy. The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps. It wasn’t as “fun” for a “techie” as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as “fun” for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved. I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.
One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space. For an enterprise business “fun” is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream. This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify. Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly “Enterprise Time Capsule” or Appliance. There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years. However today’s innovation is tomorrow’s PDP-11. Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn’t be. The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.
Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers. While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for “just working” each and every time. It doesn’t matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader– the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that “just works” each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments.