“The Cambrian explosion was the relatively rapid appearance of most major animal life forms, accompanied by major diversification of organisms. Before, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organised into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today.” (Adapted from Wikipedia )
I believe we are witnessing a similar “Cambrian Explosion of everything” in the information technology evolution of the recent years, and we see a relatively rapid appearance of new “life” forms, new building blocks for the way we do business in this hyper-connected economy.
This thought came into my mind when attending recently the Cloud Identity Summit in Vail, Colorado 16-19 July 2012.
Explosion of API’s
During the pre-conference workshops, I had already seen the explosion of a whole set of new authentication methods and digital identity concepts like SAML, OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, OIX, Facebook Connect, Google’s Accountholder.com initiative, etc, etc
And then came Craig Burton with a presentation announced as “The future of Authentication” but in essence a variation of his epic talk on “Identity and the API economy”. His full prezi presentation is here. (Disclosure: Craig has been advising us on our Digital Asset Grid research project)
- If this evolution goes on, we’ll have 30K “open” APIs by 2016
- But most enterprise API’s are not open, they are kept private, and their growth rate is 5 times that of open API’s. They are also referred to as “Dark API’s”, because you don’t see these species in the open.
Craig then showed some staggering stats of open API’s, the so-called “API Billionaires”
If you do the calculation, this means 150,000 API calls per second for Twitter!
Craig believes – and I subscribe – that we will see a very fast evolution where
“everyone and everything will have its API”
And every API needs its identity. Leading to the staggering conclusion that we will need to provision more than 1,000 new identities per second.
In enterprise, one of the more accepted federated identity authentication and authorization standards is SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). Craig created some consternation by stating, “SAML is dead”, because it is not made for the provisioning of this Cambrian explosion of identities. In essence the SAML model does not scale. For this type of scale, manual provisioning does not work anymore, we need high levels of automation, also at the provisioning level.
Explosion of Nodes
In his Cloud Identity Summit presentation, Craig was focusing on the explosion of number of API’s and the identities they will require.
Let me give another dimension, triggered by the research work we are doing on the Digital Asset Grid: when Craig talks about “everyone and everything will get an API”, I’d like to offer the dimension of “entities” aka “nodes in a grid” that need share data with each other. Those entities can be:
- Group of humans – a good example is a Google “circle”, it’s a group of people without legal entity and therefore no liabilities associated
- Companies – another type of groups of people – with legal entity and liability. Note that the liability of a non-profit is different from a commercial organization, from a educational institution, etc
- But now we also add devices to the mix
- And programs – pieces of software code – that act on our behalf or independently
- Services and 3rd parties representing the seller, and 4th parties representing the buyer.
- And personal and corporate clouds, where persons and corporations will keep the data they want to share in context with all the other entities in this grid of nodes.
And all these entities will get an API and will need to get an identity. It is leading to a “Catastrophic Complexity” unless we find a way to govern our communities differently, less manual, and highly automated.
It was very interesting to see that in the closing plenary of the Summit, Bob Blakley – now Global Head of Information Security at Citigroup – introduced the concept of the “Limited Liability Persona” that you could select as your identity to participate in certain data sharing use-cases. I’d like to emphasise he talks “personas” (plural of persona) and not “persons”. For example using your Limited Liability Persona “1” for getting a bank-account, and Persona “2” for your health transactions, etc.
This multiplication in personas will just add to the number of identities to deal with.
Explosion of Data
Big Data, Small Data, Real-Time Data, Fast Data, etc… I guess you are familiar with the buzzwords. I would like to share some insights that go beyond the generalities heard at most conferences.
Have a look at Avinash Kaushik – Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google – in his fascinating talk at Strata 2012 earlier this year. And especially pay attention as from minute 4:00 where he introduces Donald Rumsfeld as one of the “greatest philosophers when it comes to analytics”:
“Reports say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are the known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”
And then there is this recent Future of Internet PEW report that opens with:
Big Data: Experts say new forms of information analysis are helping us be more nimble and adaptive, but they worry over humans’ capacity to understand and use new tools well
And in the opening para:
We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. An equivalent amount of data is generated by people simply going about their lives, creating what the McKinsey Global Institute calls “digital exhaust”—data given off as a byproduct of other activities such as their Internet browsing and searching or moving around with their smartphone in their pocket.
“The realisation of dynamic and emergent systems as a natural order will cause people to realize the foolishness of trying to game systems to the Nth degree. We will see the rise of more algorithmic thinking among average people, and the application of increasingly sophisticated algorithms to make sense of large-scale financial, environmental, epidemiological, and other forms of data. Innovations will be lauded as long as they register a blip in the range of large-scale emergent phenomena.”
Explosion of Time
This leads me into one of the coolest presentations I have seen on big data, high frequency trading and the new algorithmic ecosystem by Sean Gourley from Quid.com at TEDxNewWallStreet
Especially watch the section as from minute 9:00 or so, where he lets us discover how machines are doing business in matter of nanoseconds: a world of machines where black-swans almost become the norm!
It is not so much that more time is created, but more some form or time “implosion”, where things happen in milli- and nano-seconds timeframes, an outer-space alien to human beings.
Explosion of Mobile
Also repeated over and over again at Cloud Identity Summit by different speakers. Whereas many of the suggested solutions consisted of some form of “identity bridges” or translators if you want, I start to believe we come at a point where also here the existing metaphors and techniques are not adapted to the new paradigm of super-scale.
I have seen so many statistics and data that mobile is big, I prefer to refer to the mother of all internet trends, Mary Meeker who moved last year from Morgan Stanley to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Beyers with her May 2012 update on Internet trends.
As from slide #29, she introduces the “Re-Imagination of nearly everything”
And closes her presentation with
“This cycle of tech disruption
is materially faster & broader
then prior cycles…”
Explosion of Decentralization
With some delay, I found some time this week to watch Don Tapscott’s talk at TEDGlobal 2012 where he gets into “the interest of the collective”
Tapscott points out that this is “Not an Information Age, but an Age of Networked Intelligence”
And Don Tapscott nails it when he summarised the 4 principles for the open world:
The meta-story underpinning all this, is probably well reflected in the recent essay “The Democratization of Globalization” by Parag Khanna: We are not only moving into the age of Networked Intelligence, but we are also moving into Globalization 5.0 that is characterized by a high level of fragmentation and decentralization.
“Call it Globalization 5.0, the most decentralized form of the phenomenon in history. If succeeding in Globalization 5.0 comes down to exhibiting a single trait, it would be resilience—a decentralized, node-to-node way of doing business, where hundreds or thousands of points of interconnection form a giant web of commerce, information and social good. Those who can demonstrate resilience will adapt and thrive. Those who cling to the old, centralised paradigm do so at their own risk”
I am deeply convinced that the “Cambrian Explosion of Everything” is leading us very fast in a highly fragmented world of heterogeneous entities that are sharing and analysing data at warp speed.
It’s a new world
that will soon require new levels of
governance, security, identity
and community or commons management
Who could be the neutral trusted organisation for the financial industry to deliver us that resilience and trust for the next superfast and hyper-connected data-age?