The future, 100 months from now:
It’s Monday, 6 July 2026. It’s been quite a week since SQL Server Update 2607 was released. The entire production infrastructure has been refreshed. All devices are reporting in, and your glasses are showing green across the fleet.
There’s a problem, though. One of the container hosts is reporting an error on a database instance in Namibia. You investigate and remember that this was the Raspberry Pi model that sometimes falls over if the CPU hits 3 GHz. It’s fine, you can just spin up a new container and restore from the snapshot. You raise a ticket to replace that device during the next hardware refresh.
Whew, that was a close one.
Your spouse is calling. You blink twice to accept the call, and a new shopping list is synchronized to your glasses while you chat. You absently tap the right arm and the shopping list is sent to Amazon. The drone should drop the items (gently) on your balcony by the time you get home.
Living in the future is cool, you think to yourself.
It’s been a long day, so you head home. You don’t always come into the office, but they have more bandwidth here and it’s good to see the entire server fleet on the video wall during an enterprise-wide upgrade. Working for a cloud provider is cool.
On the way from your desk, various monitoring devices react and turn off as you walk past, and let other devices know that you’re on your way. The elevator is waiting for you and knows to take you to the basement, based on the predictive model you designed. In the basement, you walk to your car, which opens the door as you arrive.
You climb into the back seat, and the gyroscopes adjust to your weight. As you blink twice to let the car know you’re ready to leave, and another blink to resume reading your book, you remember how motion sickness in cars used to be a thing. Heck, you remember how driving your own car used to be a thing.
Across the city, a man tries to pay for something, but his glasses are flat and getting them to charge is always tricky. He eventually pulls out his mobile device, and has to enter the password manually because it’s been so long since the voice unlock was activated. The password is 36 characters long and he has ulnar nerve neuropathy, so it’s very slow going. The teenage clerk is now impatiently huffing at the man.
The mobile device doesn’t unlock, so the man scratches in his backpack for the credit card he keeps for emergencies. Finally he brings it out, and the clerk doesn’t know how to process it. The man explains that there must be a point of sale device that he can at least tap it against, like they used to do with watches, but the clerk’s face is blank.
An older woman comes out of the back room and sees the line of people, waiting for this man to pay, and opens up a cupboard below the desk where she hauls out a credit card slide machine and carbon paper.
The man signs with his fingernail because no one uses pens anymore, and gratefully takes his diabetes medication. It is raining now, so he runs for cover at the bus stop. Luckily his glasses seem to be working when he gets on, because the driver doesn’t stop him.
As he gets to his apartment building, the security guard buzzes him up because he recognizes him, even though the security tag in his glasses doesn’t work when the batteries are flat.
In March of 2018, it’s hard to realize just how far we’ve come with managing data and systems.
Many predictions of the future seem to be about the “cool” stuff: new technology and how it will solve our biggest pain points. It’s one of the reasons we IT professionals always try to get customers to upgrade software regularly, and take advantage of new features.
The other side of that coin is that the cool technology only works for people who can afford to keep upgrading.
In 2009 I wrote an article with my friend Brendon Bezuidenhout, about the cloud being a barrier to real time business intelligence. Now with self-service Power BI at $10 per month, those concerns have all but gone away.
It’s hard to predict where we’ll be in 100 months, without appreciating where we’ve come from in the last 100 months.
9 years ago, SQL Server 2008 was the new hotness. The iPhone was barely two years old. Virtualization technology was in its infancy. Hard drives were mostly spinning disks. I used a key to unlock my car door.
On the other hand, our increased reliance on technology can fail spectacularly.
What happens when you try to catch a bus and you don’t have money or a bus ticket? If it’s not raining, my bet is you will walk.
What happens at the airport when your battery goes flat on your phone, and the boarding pass is folded in such a way that the barcode is illegible? Will you walk then?
As stewards of technology, we need to make sure that we keep abreast of all the new and cool things happening, managing security and privacy too, while continuing to make that technology accessible to everyone.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cool stuff and imagine things we can easily afford.
For example, iPads (and Chromebooks) in schools are great if the teachers know how to use them, the devices are charged overnight, and there’s Wi-Fi.
Augmented Reality is cool if you have access to electricity to charge them.
Do you know what else is cool if you have access to electricity? Refrigerators.
In 100 months, I’d like to see more effort in having technology accessible to everyone. I’d like us to think about what it means when batteries go flat, and how we deal with system failures. I’d like to take advantage of those advances in technology that make it easy to give away for hardly any money.
I’d also like to see more empathy from technology-literate people when someone doesn’t know how to use, or is physically limited in using technology the “right” way. That’s also on us for making things easier to use.
So for this T-SQL Tuesday #100, I encourage you to be aware that we need to make things easier to use. This can be as simple as sharing your knowledge. We can’t control every aspect of how technology is distributed, but we can at least make an effort to share what we know.
And if we are building new things, empathy will aid us in making these things easier to use for everyone. Imagine someone who is completely disabled, having to use your products. Imagine someone who is partially disabled, having to use your products.
In the words of William Gibson, the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.
Find me on Twitter at @bornsql.