On Demanding Adaptive Real-Times

On Demanding Adaptive Real-Times

The pay-as-go model doesn't send our columnist to the wall, but to the fridge

I've been inundated by by letters and e-mails of the latest advances in all the major IT company marketing departments. They're espousing how utilizing and virtualizing and automating and deploying dynamic workloads will better meet my needs and improve - sorry, enhance - my productivity. It's called various names depending on the colour of the brochure, but it's something like adaptive N1 real-time on-demand.

It looks fantastic. I can get lots of resources delivered without paying until I use them and shuffle them around depending on what I'm doing. I have a far more pressing need for this at home than in the office, so I arranged for my supermarket to deliver six months of food now, and I'll pay for it when I eat it. It's good for the supermarket, cuts down on deliveries and saves that difficult traditional delay between me being hungry and getting to the shops to buy something to eat.

This is not fast food, this is Instant Food!

It seemed like a great idea when I signed up, but I have had some teething troubles, excuse the pun, with my Instant Food implementation.

Payments: Initially the supermarket insisted the food usage, sorry food utilization, be automatically monitored. At last, I thought, a use for my Internet fridge other than for sticking the kids paintings over the display panel. The fridge tracked my resource usage whenever I used the fridge by scanning every barcode I/O operation, but every time I took out the milk for a coffee I got billed and had to log in to the fridge to reverse the debit. It all got too much, so the supermarket now works on an honour system, which means in practical terms I don't pay them anything until I run out of food and want more.

Under-utilized Resources: Despite the grandiose promises about paying only for what you use, this doesn't work in practice. When I held a dinner party and had over-allocated food resources required, I found trying to return the unused food proved difficult, as the plate of Steak Diane had no barcode so the fridge wouldn't credit the return. What I was going to do with half-eaten meals wasn't entirely clear to me, but the brochure did say I could reallocate resources to meet changing demands.

Planning: Although I bought six months of food, the fact it was all just there meant I ate more often, so it ran out after 3½ months. Currently I'm both overweight and starving.

Budget: Now that I've eaten all the food, I'd like to buy more to meet my growing (literally) demand. However this means another budget allocation, which has to be approved by the financial controller. She was never really in favour of the whole Instant Food idea and dictated I would have to make cuts in other budgetary areas. But it's obviously impossible to have food without wine, so that expense remains. If I don't go out to the movies, I stay home and eat, so it makes financial sense not to touch the entertainment budget.

My threat of redundancies, especially in the area of the financial controller, was met with such an icy stare that global warming's been delayed by 50 years. She talked instead about freezing the allocation, and it didn't help at all when I pointed out the problem was caused by our allocations in the freezer. She suggested I should just starve and added, somewhat caustically I thought, it would do me good.

Despite what these companies are promising, I've found my on-demand, adaptive, real-time instant food venture unsatisfying, expensive, inflexible and hard to manage, plus it exposed my lack of planning and forethought to my Boss.

Although I might just be cranky because I'm so hungry.

Ian Ternet is the pseudonym of a veteran IT professional specializing in leading-edge technologies and scepticism, who views the IT industry not so much as "dot com" as "dot comedy"

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