Some people say that it takes ten years to take a new operating system from concept to production-ready. Look at the history of Windows, Linux and many others and you’ll see that it’s a long journey. So when I read Paul Buchheit’s post yesterday, The Cloud OS, I was intrigued to see how much it resonated with an article I wrote ten years ago, in October 2000, … We Are All Inside the Machine. Written in the spirit of a manifesto for cloud computing (as we now call it), that earlier article seems to have stood the test of time pretty well. One passage in particular resonated with the points made in Buchheit’s post:
“Gradually the Internet is becoming a unified system that encompasses every computing asset in the world, whether it is located at an Internet data centre or on a user’s desktop. Internet computing is no longer a separate entity that is out there, beyond the walls of our office or enterprise. We are all inside the machine, and every enterprise and user becomes a component within the Internet computing value chain.”
An insightful article by analyst Michael Mace last year captured similar notions, updated to recognise the evolution of mobile devices, and introduced a concept he termed the ‘metaplatform’:
“Companies entering the mobile market often ask me which mobile operating systems are going to win long term. I think that’s the wrong question. What we’re seeing is the gradual evolution of a super-OS that includes both the network and the device … I’m calling it the ‘metaplatform’ because it subsumes all other platforms.”
Now Buchheit’s post spells it all out with remarkable clarity, suggesting to me that the idea I first outlined ten years ago is now reaching maturity.