In any business we need metrics to determine our performance. In most cases that is through identification of a “unit” of operation, and determining the success or failure of your company based on cost, revenue, and performance based on that unit. In the old days data centers might have used “cabinet equivalents” as their unit. How much does it cost to build a data center, bring in electricity, and deliver communications to a cabinet? How much revenue does that cabinet generate? The delta?
Of course units change, and most data centers are moving to a kilowatt/square foot model of units. If you follow Gestalt Law or systems theory and apply that to business you will expect that “nothing is stable and things are always changing,” a “system is adaptive and will change as needed to respond to new stimulus,” and the “future is unpredictable.”
This tells us that if we are not adaptable, single rigid systems will not easily survive additional stimulus, unless it is a very unique system element that is more powerful than all other stimulus. In this case the powerful stimulus actually creates a potential point of failure for the health of an entire system.
How many times have we seen a dominant member of the Internet community succumb to arrogance and refusal to adapt to changing socio, political, or economic conditions? Remember the days when Sprintlink was the only credible commercial Internet service? AOL the only Internet portal company that had content available through an HTTP interface, albeit a proprietary browser interface?
The Internet industry is riddled with examples of companies and concepts that were attempting to gain complete control over their segment of the industry, whether through Tier 1 Internet access, to owning the bulk of search engine content, and did not see a need to change their business plan or product lines to address a changing market.
Let’s look at a couple other topics within systems theory:
oThe parts of a system must communicate with each other
oThe system is always changing
oThe behavior of a system cannot be predicted from the behavior of its parts
oAn organization near death will stagnate and its parts will begin to wither
oIf there is too much top down control creativity and productivity will be lost
oA system as a whole works differently than its parts
oParts alone cannot duplicate a system
oA small stimulus may have a large effect, or no effect at all
oParts cannot contain the whole
oEnergy and information are constant inputs and outputs of a healthy system, keeping the system in a state of flux and change
oNo single element can control a system, and if it tries, the entire system is at great risk for failure if the dominant element fails
The Any2 Exchange (Internet Exchange Point) is designed and implemented with the vision of providing a low-barrier location where parts of our Internet community and systems can communicate with each other.
There are many additional jewels available in systems theory. Understanding more about systems, chaos theory, and Gestalt Law might help those new to the Internet business grasp not only where they may fit in the big picture, but also fully comprehend why opportunities for innovation, change, and new system stimulus are healthy and essential components of the Internet. Being a small part of a system in some cases can bring just as much value to the system as large parts and subsystems – and again the system needs change to continue growing and remain healthy.
Do we need to make some correlations or examples within our Internet community?
oRegulation of a system may prevent creativity and innovation
oA component of a healthy system becoming too powerful may result in a broken system or development of a new system which will bypass the powerful element
oDisruptive technologies such as VoIP or HTML may have a profound effect on the overall Internet system – or potentially no long term effect at all
oor other examples you may develop
Over time business results generally follow what we know of systems theory and Gestalt Law. In an environment such as Any2 (CRG West’s Internet Exchange Point) within carrier hotels and data center facilities (you can add your own IXP or data center as needed to complete the thought), we have a very large, diverse, and innovative community. Members of the community come from Tier 1 carriers, ISPs, call home direct, VoIP, CDN, gaming, enterprise, government, telephony – almost anything that communicates or entertains can be found within one of our facilities.
We begin to see our roles as a location which facilitates and nurtures the innovation and creativity of our tenant or customer community (of course while making a profit for the owners). If we do not make every attempt to enable our clients to do better and more innovative business, then we are becoming a negative stimulus to the system, forcing the system around us to find a better conduit for system growth and direction.
As communications professionals we intend to continue providing a positive stimulus to our community. As such, we strive to continue being as open as possible to new ideas and change – with the only guideline that we will also make every attempt to remain neutral to our community. We will ensure the shareholders and owners of our companies have a revenue model that pays for our benevolence, while not creating roadblocks to innovation and industry growth, using creativity and flexibility to ensure we are not the root cause of a failure in our part of the system.