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Look out for the idiot in the DevOps vehicle

If software is your driver I’d keep my seat belt on if I were you says Nick Booth

In Munich last week, we saw a demonstration of how driverless lorries could bring massive benefits to society. The logic of chipmaker NXP’s brilliant invention seemed pretty sound at first.

Robo-lorries would be safer, since they have radars, lidars and sonars, in addition to visual stimulus of video, which let them spot dangers which are way beyond human perception. They react quicker too. The dimmest robot is still twice as quick at stopping a lorry as humanity’s finest rally driver, Fernando Alonso. Robots don’t get bored and doze off, as I saw a lorry driver do in a morning traffic queue on the M25. Neither do they get tempted to watch movies on a dashboard-mounted DVD player, which is increasingly common, says the man from DAF Trucks. Nor will you catch robots texting people, while tailgating the poor mini driver in front.

Then there’s the fact that automated lorries can organise themselves into a platoon, which is a sort of virtual train made up of up to seven lorries in a line. By driving close together (remember they can stop as one) these slipstreaming lorries are 10 per cent more fuel efficient.

By the time Jack Martens and Clara Otero, the respective project leaders for DAF Trucks and NXP Semiconductors, had finished I was a believer! I rushed out to have a lift in one of these automated driverless trucks. I didn’t even put my seat belt on. OK, going from 60 kilometres per hour to a dead stop in 40 miliseconds would send you catapulting through the front window, but that was never going to happen, was it? These driverless trucks know exactly what they’re doing.

But not long after our mini convoy pulled off, I thought again. Hang on, there was a human driver in both cabs. What did that tell us? The one at the back only really relinquished control for a few seconds at a time. Which suggests to me that the safe driverless lorry train is still a way off in the distance.

As with much of the so-called virtual world, a huge amount of human intervention is needed.

Taje another example. There are multiple blockages that need clearing in the virtual desktop interface (VDI) sector, according to Mark Plettenburg, product manager at LoginVSI. People were sold the concept of VDI without being warned of the management overhead. Which creates a great business opportunity for LoginVSI and its service partners. “It’s complex to build a Citrix environment because it can be 30 layers made up of different vendors. They’re like snowflakes - every one is different,” says Plettenberg.

Another by product of virtualisation, DevOPs culture, which produces continuous software updates, is proving a massive pain in the AAS. “These constant updates really hack the users off,” says Plettenberg.

LoginVSI aims to give resellers-cum-service providers the platfrom for managing these constant updates without getting in the way of everyday business. The plan for its latest systems, Login PI,  is to shape update culture around the working patterns of the users. Non-disruptive IT: what a radical idea!

Meanwhile, Atlantis Computing is looking for channel partners to help it integrate the workspace infrastructure with Citrix’s management systems. The goal is to shrink the apps, management and infrastructure into a single service, which will make management less time consuming and a lot cheaper. Recently it announced a partnership with Rancher Labs where they will jointly converge computing, storage and the modern source of complexity, containers, into one entity.

Businesses need an infrastructure that automatically adapts to conditions, according to Chetan Venkatesh, CEO of Atlantis. “The workspace today is too much of a jigsaw puzzle of multiple tools and seperate processes,”he says.

Yes, businesses are increasingly software driven, but you’d have to be a lunatic to take your hands off the wheel!

This was last published in November 2016

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