Sunday, November 20, 2011
What with HPTS, JUDCon, JAX, QCon, JavaOne and various business meetings, I've been doing a lot of traveling recently. Time spent on a plane usually means my mind wanders a bit, covering various topics some of them unrelated. One of the things I got thinking about though, was definitely influenced by a series of talks I've been giving for a while, including at my JBossWorld keynote: the history of distributed systems.
I covered it at Santosh's retirement event too, but from a very personal perspective, i.e., how Arjuna related to it, and relate it did, often in a big way. So this got me to thinking about the various technology waves I've lived through and helped influence in one way or another. And it was quite "chilling" for me to realise how much I'd forgotten about what's happened over the past third of a century or more! (And that made me feel old too!)
I often take for granted that I lived through the start of the PC era: there were no PCs when I first started to code. In fact I'd been developing applications on a range of devices before IBM came out with the first PC or before Microsoft came with the first version of Word. I moved through the era of the BBC, ZX80, Commodores, Ataris, etc. into the first Sun machines, Apples, PCs, laptops, desktops, PDAs, smartphones, pads and much much more. A huge change in the way we interact with computers and importantly the data they maintain. Many different paradigm shifts!
Looking at the middleware shifts that accompanied some of these hardware changes and in fact were often driven by them, I've ridden a number of equally important waves. RPC, distributed objects, bespoke enterprise middleware architectures and implementations, standards based, a number of times there have been explosions of languages including functional and object-oriented, Java, open source, Web Services, REST, mobile, ubiquitous computing, and of course fault tolerance running throughout with transactions and replication. And I'm probably forgetting other things in between these waves.
It's been a bumpy ride at times. The move from CORBA to J2EE wasn't necessarily as good as is could have been. Web Services were often vilified far more than made sense if you were objective. But overall I've enjoyed the ride so far, more or less. And now with Cloud, mobile and beyond it's looking like the next decade will be at least as interesting as the last three. I'm looking forward to playing my part in it!