IT Life: The Network CTO Who Thinks Cloud Will Fade

Updata Martin Jackobsen

Faster processors and network overhead will kill the cloud, says Martin Jakobsen of Updata

Martin Jakobsen is CTO of public sector network specialists Updata. He has been working in IT for over 12 years, and now heads up Updata’s commercial and pre-sales teams and leads new product development. He rates Michael Dell and doesn’t think the cloud is the future.

essex county councilWhat has been your favourite project so far?
My favourite project was one of Updata’s earlier roll-outs in 2005. We successfully achieved a multi-million pound deal with Essex County Council when we were only a ten-man company. It was a bit like David taking on Goliath and we won! Our efforts, expertise and ability in Essex were recognised when the networking contract came out to retender – along with Daisy Communications we formed Daisy Updata Communications Ltd and we won an £80m network deal with the County in late 2012/early 2013.

Copper unbundling

What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
Before I moved to the UK from Denmark, I was involved in testing bonding technology for copper before EFM (Ethernet in the first mile) was standardised. When the EU ruled that incumbent providers needed to open up their networks, TDC – Denmark’s equivalent to Ofcom in the UK – made it very easy for providers to access exchanges and develop LLU (local loop unbundling) solutions. I took that LLU knowledge with me to Updata and we were very early adopters especially for bonded copper in the UK. We could provide 9.2Mbps copper solutions and that was quite unique at that point and when we rolled out our first 9.2Mbps bonded SDSL nobody else was doing this.

I also worked on early MPLS deployments and legacy SDH networks also.

What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
Tricky to look that far ahead, but we can already see a hint of the pervading challenge of the convergence of IT services across industries and how technology suppliers are slowly breaking down boundaries between network, telephony and application. By way of example, Cisco is becoming a server provider and server providers like Dell are becoming network providers. The whole industry is moving towards convergence and as a managed service provider you have little choice but to be able to do everything. I expect Updata will be delivering an end-to-end service from application to the network a managed service provider in the true sense.

Unleash Dell

Michael DellWho’s your tech hero?
It would be a choice between the great tech IT minds of Bill Gates, Lars Ericsson and Michael Dell. I would say Michael Dell who at the age of 15 got his first computer, an Apple II, which he promptly disassembled to see how it worked. Now, as we all know, he is the founder and CEO of the largest global PC distributor in history, Dell.

Who’s your tech villain?
The company Apple is my tech villan, because it has over simplified and has inflexible applications. The way they control apps on the iPhone does not necessarily foster a spirit of innovation in the wider tech community.

What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
Okay, apart from the wheel, I would have to say the Internet, which is the obvious choice as it is all-pervasive and has such a significant impact both in our personal and work lives.

Wilt apple on isolated white backgroundWhat is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing?
Updata’s budget is fast growing because we are growing as a business. In the last five years we have grown six fold and now have a team of over 100 people, Updata has a turnover of £25 million. We are a specialist integrator of network and managed services and the only SME on the Government Procurement Service’s Public Services Network (PSN) Connectivity Framework.

In product development, we are investing in new propositions for our customers, which will mostly focus around convergence and managed services…….

Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
I admire Google; it has become the default search engine with impressive response times. It is estimated Google processes over one billion search requests in a day, probably because it is simple and efficient to use and has become one of the most constant and reliable things in the world. It has an incredible ability to diversify and pre-empt market demands having become so much more than just a search engine. Google is also an application provider, device manufacturer and software giant to rival Microsoft.

What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
The greatest challenge at the moment is that everyone is consolidating their services; the demarcation point is disappearing, so a company needs to decide where to position itself clearly. It is all too easy to become everything to everyone and lose focus.

Cloud is a trend

storm cloud disaster tornado road © solarseven ShutterstockTo Cloud or not to Cloud?
Definitely not to Cloud. It is purely a trend and the next generation of processors will overtake the demand for Cloud.

Centralisation or decentralisation has been a constant trend in IT. You started in massive centralised computing, then PCs and then network computers and then everyone moved away from that. The reality is, there will always be a trade off between localised processing power and network capacity. When the next generation of processors comes out, you will probably move a lot of things out of the cloud because it will be more cost effective to do that because the overheads of the network to support the cloud will be cost prohibitive. In my opinion, the risk of using cloud providers will limit the overall success of the cloud. Business critical data should not be hosted in the cloud – note the recent demise of a major public sector managed service provider – no names mentioned.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
Much to the perplexity of my parents and their friends, I wanted to be an IT millionaire when I was a child. At the age of six I began programming computers under the guidance of my father, a computer scientist at the time.

I was playing badminton at a national level but there was nothing I enjoyed more as a child than pulling apart a computer and putting it back together again. I set up my own IT consultancy at the age of 18 whilst studying for a degree in Business Administration and Computer Science at Copenhagen Business School.

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