One of the best things about my work with OpenStack is the excitement I get when I envision the impact the work we do here today will have on the IT departments of the (very near) future.
Imagine a stay in a hospital, where instead of of nurses and med techs coming in every four hours around the clock to monitor your vital signs, a small monitoring device with specific sensors sends a steady stream of medical information to a central monitoring station. Software at the station not only looks for large anomalies, but also innocuous patterns that could indicate something serious.
Or imagine that kind of medical data being delivered to a central monitor when the patient is in their home. Or at work.
Fill a city with climate and environmental sensors, like noise and light levels, and use those sensors to identify emergencies before someone can dial a phone or long-term problems about the health of a particular neighborhood.
Put some sensors in a farm field in a developing country, and let farmers use the gathered data to know exactly how much water and nutrients to use for different parts of the field. For pennies a sensor, the yield of the field is maximized to help support a family for another year and maybe bring a little extra to the market.
A train car that knows exactly where it is at any given moment, cutting down on waste and unexpected routings.
A smart home that can control temperature, ambient light, and even alert a parent when a toddler is opening a cabinet they are not supposed to be in.
These are all just a very few examples of what the media calls the Internet of Things, either very real or in development as you read this. If you look an an object and imagine what that object could do if it were connected to the Internet, you can think of cool new applications on your own.
“Internet of Things” is a romantic notion. It’s not like web servers and file servers were animate objects all this time. But whatever you call it, this new interconnected network of everyday objects will greatly impact people all of the world.
You can be sure that entrepreneurs are thinking of creative new ways to plug more devices into the Internet of Things, and all of them will need the same thing: a safe, secure platform on which they can store the data they will gather and analyze it to deliver the key services they will provide. If that platform is highly configurable and open, so much the better to mesh the platform to their needs.
One of the many applications of OpenStack technology will be to build that platform, and be a part of a world that will talk to us and tell us how to take better care of ourselves.
And that’s a pretty good place to be.