Last week was eventful for the Silicon Valley and I am still trying to digest the developments.
There is news that IBM, known for its large mainframe computers and IT services for corporates, is trying to acquire Sun Microsystems, the maker of sturdy network computers and owner of Java, the programming language that is red-hot in running the Internet.
Cisco, the company that started out making routers — the equipment that diverts data traffic through the network — is paying $590 million to buy Pure Digital, which makes affordable video cameras.
Cisco also announced its entry into making “servers” —network software/appliances — challenging companies like Hewlett Packard and Dell.
Some think Cisco should be buying Sun.
What exactly is going on? It is not easy to link up all these bits of news, but the trend is clear. As information technology becomes complex, people want simple, affordable products and services tailored to match their needs and convenience.
I liken this to groceries. There was a time when for South Indian items like sambar powder, one had to go to niche shops, but now, big players like Reliance Retail or even local grocers will sell you that, because convenience is the name of the game.
In the Silicon Valley “cloud computing” is the current buzz for convenience. Sun Micro itself has launched its cloud computing service, while IBM has one that is still walking baby steps. Simply put, “cloud computing” offers a mix of software, platform and infrastructure in a single offering —a bit like a small hotel offering a travel desk or laundry services involving partners in a one-stop shop model.
For Cisco, more video traffic can help it sell high-powered video routers and it can possibly bundle videocams with overall video-conferencing equipment, be it for homes or corporates. It can also sell servers in similar package deals with routers.
For IBM, getting access to Java technology from ailing Sun Micro could mean engaging influential software developers and be at the cutting edge of being a one-stop-shop for large corporate clients.
Though the patterns are still emerging, it is clear that convenience computing is the name of the game. I also call this ‘bhelpuri’ computing because, much like Mumbai’s affordable street food, it can offer variety and ease by mixing ingredients.