Why don’t people do the research …

Bill Chamberlin of Horizon Watching is undertaking his annual trawl for people’s ideas about trends, via the Linkedin group. There’s a link which has been picked up (it’s automated, so this is not a criticism of Bill) to a little item about – hey presto – how to create fuel from all that atmospheric CO2 and solve global warming at a stroke.

The posting is on the Smarter Planet blog, It claims to be reporting research by  and it shows a video from Scientific American, which should know better. It’s a naff animation which explains that if you react water with CO2 you can create methane (aka natural gas), a fuel. But of course you need energy to drive that reaction. Hey, why don’t we drive it with solar electricity so we create a new fuel for nothing (in energy terms, that is).

This video is a total waste of space. Reversing chemical reactions (such as the burning of methane to create CO2 and water) by the application of energy is very, very old. Metal smelting is prehistoric. The idea of storing power generated by solar cells, wind etc has many manifestations: hydrogen storage (electrolysis of water), pumped storage hydroelecticity (Dinorwic in Wales for example) and many others.

I feel sorry for former Princeton PhD student Emily Barton, whose name is attached to this piece of simplistic reporting. It’s made to sound as if she thought she had the original idea to recreate methane from CO2. Nobody would get credit for that as an original idea in high school, never mind at PhD level.

A bit of simple investigation uncovers that the key feature of this research is the development of new catalysts, systems and processes. Emily Barton is a reaction kineticist and the chemistry involved is certainly serious stuff. If the video had focussed on this, it would have been worth watching.

The technology’s been taken up by a company called Liquid Light Inc. Oh, and she’s now known as Emily Cole. So much for simplistic reporting. Why don’t people check things out?

• Is Reverse Combustion the Key Alternative Energy Source?, Smarter Planet, 29 Nov 2010
• Liquid Light Inc
• For one of the relevant academic papers, see Barton-Cole, E. and A.B. Bocarsly (2010). Photochemical, Electrochemical, and Photoelectrochemical Reduction of Carbon Dioxide, in: Carbon Dioxide as Chemical Feedstock, ed. M. Aresta, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co., Weinheim.

IDC Webinar: Predictions 2011

IDC logoIt’s not just Gartner who are in the predictions business and I’ve sampled IDC’s offering with an open webinar featuring Frank Gens, IDC’s Senior Vice President & Chief Analyst.

These are market predictions, primarily for vendors. InformationSpan will put some spin on them for enterprise IT, but you will need to add your own thinking!

The theme is “Welcome to the new mainstream”: the convergence of so-called disruptive technologies. They will break out of the sandbox, cease to be seen as disrupting the market, and become the market.

PS (update, 16 Dec): you can see IDC’s own post on this research on the Insights blog; link, below.

First, public cloud services will grow at 5x the rate of the industry overall. Platform as a Service will determine “the next Microsoft”, private cloud development will be very strong (maybe 30% growth plus), and there will be a battle for “hybrid cloud” (public plus private) management – what I might call the SNMP of multiple heterogeneous private clouds, for those with longer memories.

For enterprise IT: if you’re using cloud services it’s already almost impossible to stick to a single provider. Watch the emergence of management tools, which will be vital for your realistic needs.

“Watch the developers: the market follows the solutions”. So watch which platforms app developers target (Amazon, Google, telcos, IBM, HP, VMWare, …). And watch for vendor acquisitions: providers will want to strengthen their positions, so there will be consolidation.

Following this, IDC think that people will gradually stop talking about “Cloud computing” and “cloud in a box” solutions will emerge in the “new datacentre” – including major vendors’ software being released “cloud-ready” or in partnership with PaaS providers (implying multi-tenancy and metering built in).

And watch Oracle, who may reach more strongly into the hardware stack now they are a hardware vendor. Enterprise data centre technology will borrow from developments for “the most extreme customers” i.e. the public cloud service providers.

For enterprise IT: enterprises that are pushing back against the adoption of public cloud services, mobile devices and the like will have to adjust. Your vendors (or those who eat their markets) are starting to move their developments to look first at the cloud environment. When these become the lead platform for their market share, those who don’t embrace this delivery model will find themselves behind the curve. But watch the market, and think about the possibility of your chosen provider being bought up by a rival.

Do you know what a Zetabyte is? It’s next after Exabytes, which is next after Gigabytes … The digital universe counts in this unit now, and doubles every couple of years or less. Information and content management will be hot in 2011; watch the vendors for acquiring/being acquired. In the business-specific side of IM, compliance (think SOX, HIPAA, etc) will be built into cloud service offerings. And analytics will move from after-the-fact to real time streamed analytics; watch the data warehouse vendors, and watch for streamed analytics as API-enabled cloud services.

For enterprise IT: with the increasing complexity of the enterprise data environment, and the increasing demands of compliance, take a good look at these “oven-ready” cloud services but watch for marketing hype.

With the growth of mobile, network (wireless and wired) becomes ever more important. 4G will begin to be seriously marketed, and “Ethernet exchanges” (e.g. for metropolitan network environments) will gain in visibility.

IDC expect shipments of “App-capable but not PC” devices to exceed PC devices. Vendors with the strong windows heritage (esp Microsoft) will need to move to get into this space. Media tablets (like the iPad) will soar; further out, Android will take some iPad share as it has with iPhone. And the “App Store” phenomenon continues to explode, and will spread to PC software for adoption and upgrade.

For enterprise IT: new options for your mobile workers (road warriors, sales force, home workers, contingency planning) are beginning to emerge. Monitor these and look for leverage. There will be strong pressure from new delivery models particularly (in the Windows environment) the Windows App Store when it comes to market. And the model offers great potential for simplifying device management and, perhaps, facilitating a wider choice of user devices so that users can self-manage and work with the device that best suits them.

Emerging markets have always had a different profile for mobile devices, ever since the mobile phone was invented. These markets will have more emphasis on low end devices: high-end vendors (e.g. Apple) will feel the impact.

For enterprise IT: if you are a global business, take note of how your people in developing markets exploit the different social attitude to, and technology for, mobile use. There may be ideas to port into the more mature side of your enterprise.

Around social: social business is gaining traction in the enterprise. IDC expects expanded adoption, and market consolidation (reflecting the adoption profile). The smaller business market especially is using Facebook (and similar tools) for a free online presence.

For enterprise IT: partnering with smaller enterprises (or multiple internal groups) and with users/customers is much more common as the vertically integrated company gives way to a federated model. Figure out a way to work with these tools and leverage their value. Take a creative look at the consequences before you block!

• Welcome to the new Mainstream, IDC Predictions 2011, Webinar replay (available from noon EST, 3 Dec 2010)
• IDC Predicts Cloud Services, Mobile Computing, and Social Networking to Mature and Coalesce in 2011, Creating a New Mainstream for the IT Industry, IDC Press Release, 2 Dec 2010
• IDC Predictions 2011: Welcome to the New Mainstream, IDC Document at a Glance (summary with client download), Dec 2010
2011 Will Be a BIG Year in IT Governance, IDC Insights(IT Governance and Executive Strategies), 6 Dec 2010
• IDC events (look here for other webinars including further Predictions events)