Electricity as a utility

It's been a bad day for electricity so far on my trip to Australia. I've made it as far as Singapore but it is not just the Qantas 747 that has come to a stop. When I left the house I was in two minds if I should bring my US power cables or my UK ones - I need cables for my laptop both normal and aircraft, plus cable and brick setup for my Sony DSC T1 digital camera. The Palm Treo 650 is simpler, it just charges via USB from the laptop.

So, I worked some in the car on the way to the airport, and then again in the business class lounge, and then on the plane until I got the battery low warning light. No problem me thinks, I've got my in-flight power adapter. Except it was a problem, the plug doesn't fit in these Qantas empower seats, they take a normal Australian power plug. No big deal, I've got my normal power supply and a set of adapters...

I climb over the guy in 24b and retrieve my bag from the ovehead locker. In it I have everthing I need for the camera and the bag of adapters for to fit almost any socket in the world. I've got the power brick for my IBM Thinkpad T40 but guess what... yep. I don't have the lead from the socket to the brick.

So, despite having a rich set of adapters, and dual backends, I have no point to point connectivity and am unable to proceed.

This is a tale that resonates in my professional life as well. Although I don't often own up to it here, I am in fact a wage slave in the IT Industry where I'm often involved in discussions about having computing as a utility, people often say "like electricity". And yes, as far back as the Autumn of '98 this was a concept I was taking around server group IBM HQ to get funding.

We got involved in Grid technology which through Jeff Nicks guidance we started extending through an industry standard web services and then 2.5 years ago, Grid became a core part of our core corporate on demand initiative.

The point though was that through web services we would provide a 'pluggable' interface through which any system could call the utility or grid service and pass it parameters to drive some aspect of utility computing. So far this is looking very promising(See WS-Resource Framework for full details).

However, there are minor ripples on the horizon that could turn out to be waves if we don't watch out. We've got to make sure that our web services based Grid can be accessed by both more sophisticated SOAP based services as well as simpler REST based systems. Otherwise we run the risk of losing the cable for the adapter and not being able to use the utility that has been provided, just like my airline seat I guess!

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