Network Television mirrors IT Technology Cycles

There were 2 maybe 3 Golden ages of network television. The first was the initial couple of years that TV existed with shows like the Honeymooners and I love Lucy. The second came in the 70’s – 80’s with shows like the Love Boat, Knight Rider, and the A-Team (plus sweet cartoons like GI-Joe, Transformers, and Thunder Cats). I digress; the third Golden Age was 1989 – 2000 with shows like Seinfeld and Friends netting the networks loads of money. The thing that broke up the golden ages were disruptive technologies. While I wasn’t alive for the first golden age I certainly saw the episodes in re-runs and I saw the second golden age end because of cable networks and the third one come to an end because of better programming on those same cable networks.

Now TV seems to be in state of flux, there are some great shows across cable and the big networks. But consumers don’t want to pay those big bills and they want to go al a carte on channels. Things like Roku, Netflix and Chrome Cast have made alternative viewing methods possible and binge watching an actual thing.

So now you are probably asking yourself how does this couch potato link this all back to IT? Well it’s not that hard actually. Because these golden ages have mirrored the IT industry oddly closely. The first golden age lasted through age of the mainframe and dumb terminals, personal computers were not a norm in fact I remember seeing type writers on peoples desks. As PC’s became more consumable people drifted away from mainframe and DataCenters, and typewriters for that matter. Everyone had a PC on their desk and at first they were segmented then networking was advanced and we were able to share things on more than just floppy drives but on shared storage spaces. The cyclical nature of IT began to drift us back to the datacenter as File servers and Active directory user profiles became the norm. Cost cutting then became a mainstream concept and we had to put our more expensive applications in the datacenter and provision it out (hmm like a mainframe for apps?). Once virtualization came along we realized that DataCenters were a cheaper way to manage end user needs and we started the current “cloud” journey.

Just like the story of the TV networks disruptive technologies led to these cycle changes in IT. Also just
like TV Networks we in IT find ourselves in a state of flux. TV execs are trying to figure out what people want is it “made for tv reality” (ie Duck Dynasty and the Bachelor), dramas, comedy? Is it a mix? Meanwhile in IT we are struggling with the same questions with our consumers, we have private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud, platform as a service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and the list goes on.

Some customers I talk to are locked and loaded and ready to see the future today while others are trying to still figure out how to virtualize and get ready for the as a service mentality. One thing is for sure this cycle will gain traction we will see something emerge as the leader then the next cycle will begin.

This isn’t to say we are lost right now but I think the future is yet to be fully determined, we know cloud will play a significant role in it’s many iterations but what we don’t know is how it will be consumed or who the clear winners will be. It’s an interesting time in IT to say the least. How do you think this will shake out?