Project Horizon

Bob Evans of recently published an interesting article in reference to the retirement of the iconic Boeing 747 – the original Jumbo Jet.

Evans describes the 747 as being “too big, too inefficient, too fuel-hungry, and too deeply rooted in a bygone era.” The certainty is that the world was a very different place in 1970 when the aircraft first took to the skies. It was designed largely to democratise air travel. By fitting more people on the plane they could reduce costs and make tickets more affordable.

One design feature of the 747 that is interesting to note though is that the upper deck in which the cockpit is situated was not designed solely to distance the rich and famous from the hoi polloi; it was apparently designed to allow the aircraft to eventually be converted into cargo planes. The belief at the time was that large passenger jets would eventually be replaced by supersonic jets such as the Concorde. What actually transpired though was that the 747 outlasted Concorde by some 17 years, despite its designers hedging their bets that the reverse would be true.

The point of all of this is that, while we can make educated guesses about what the future will hold, we can never really know for sure. The COVID-19 pandemic has very quickly changed the way in which certain technologies are used, but it wasn’t the first catalyst for technological change that the modern world has seen. Before it was the advent of the smart phone, social media and the internet.

Evans’ article asks the question of whether in addition to causing the early retirement of the 747, the COVID-19 pandemic will also lead to the knee-jerk replacement of all on-premise systems, which he feels would be akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

For me though, the more pertinent question is this; What can we do to futureproof an offering such as the forthcoming Project Horizon platform when in truth we have little idea what the next 10 years holds?

The answer, I believe, can be found in the attributes that lead to the success of the Boeing 747. It was designed in such a way that allowed it to be continually adapted and updated over time, from its length to the type of engines it used, the number of people it could carry, the distances it could fly, and the weights it could lift. This adaptability allowed the 747 to remain in service for half a century.

Project Horizon is being built not so much to be futureproof, but to be continually adaptable. By using a microservices architecture we avoid painting ourselves into a technological corner. If we need to change or update one of these services we can do so far more readily than if the product were built as one monolithic entity. And by building the platform in AWS we can leverage AWS’ advances in technology over time, adopting new technologies incrementally. All of this will allow us to keep the Project Horizon platform current, relevant and always at the forefront of technology.

More to follow next week!

Tom BeardsworthEducation Horizons Group, Product Marketing Lead