Leadership

The five most important IT trends of 2008

While 2008 has been a tumultuous year in business, there have also been a series of developing trends that are quietly transforming the traditional strategies and the standard operating procedures of IT. Here are the top five trends that having the biggest impact.

While 2008 has been a tumultuous year in business, there have also been a series of developing trends that are quietly transforming the traditional strategies and the standard operating procedures of IT. Here are the five trends that having the biggest impact.

5. The rise of ultra-cheap PCs

A variety of "Netbooks" from leading PC vendors brought sub-$500 laptops to the masses in 2008. These low-cost, small-form-factor machines -- pioneered by the OLPC XO and Asus Eee PC -- were originally aimed at emerging markets. However, consumers from the U.S., Europe, and Japan snapped them up in surprisingly large numbers.

Because of the portability of Netbooks, a lot of business travelers have adopted them for the convenience factor. In many cases, these machines aren't being deployed by IT but are being purchased by employees and then used for business. With the budget pressures of the current global recession, you could see IT start to co-opt these low-cost machines for some functions as an easy way to save money on capex costs, especially when Intel's Atom processor comes to the desktop in 2009. That will usher in the "Nettop" (see Intel spec), a compact, low-power form factor that will result in sub-$200 PCs and thin clients.

4. Green IT meets energy savings

Over the past several years, "Green IT" has been one of the most overhyped issues in the IT world. To be brutally honest, they were few IT leaders outside of California who spent much time thinking about it. That changed in 2008. Partially due to mounting evidence that humans might truly be impacting the earth's climate, but more directly related to rising energy costs and fears of impending energy shortages, many IT leaders have now moved energy conservation to their priority lists.

Looming government regulations on energy use and carbon dioxide emissions are another powerful motivator. All of these concerns are motivating vendors to release products to meet the growing demand for energy conservation. You can see this in the low-power chips coming out of Intel and AMD, the energy-efficient servers from HP, IBM, and Dell, and software such as Verdiem that can enable IT to save the business thousands of dollars per month by centrally managing power policies on enterprise PCs.

3. Offshoring, H1Bs, and the IT labor deficit

No topics will get a quicker rise out of U.S. IT workers than the issues of offshoring and H1B Visas. U.S. techies argue that high-wage IT jobs are being shipped to places such as India and that foreign workers are being invited to take U.S. tech jobs because they will accept lower salaries than American workers.

Meanwhile, employers and IT leaders claim that the effects of H1Bs and offshoring have been greatly exaggerated by the media and that they continue to have difficulty finding enough engineers and IT specialists with the right skills to fill all of their open positions.

Both camps can't be right, so what's the truth? Unfortunately, the data isn't clear. You can find legitimate statistics to support both conclusions. Nevertheless, what is clear is that there is a major disconnect between employers and IT workers, and that the skills it takes to succeed in IT are in a constant state of flux.

2. Virtualization and utility computing

Virtualization solutions have been in play in IT for decades. But, the current trend toward virtualizing servers and storage in the data center is revolutionizing IT management and IT economics because it is focused on three goals: 1.) streamlining server deployment and maintenance, 2.) decreasing energy costs, and 3.) building a much more flexible IT infrastructure.

This current wave of virtualization is also laying the groundwork for the next stage in IT and data centers: Utility computing.  This involves buying server and storage capacity rather than physical hardware. It is also a flexible infrastructure that can scale up and down based on user activity and resource needs, all powered by virtualization.

Under this model, many small and medium businesses will no longer operate their own server rooms or data centers but will instead buy server capacity from utility computing providers. And many large enterprises will use utility computing providers to buy extra capacity during peak times. Microsoft and Google plan to go after this market in a big way. Both of them are currently building massive data centers in multiple locations around the U.S. and across the globe in anticipation of this market exploding over the next 5-10 years.

1. IT's opportunity in the economic tsunami

During the last global recession in the early 2000s, IT took a major hit in terms of both headcount and annual budgets. That was because many companies had overbuilt their IT infrastructures and placed too much blind faith in IT projects. Today's IT departments tend to be leaner and much more ROI-focused, and in most places technology is even more integrated into business processes and operations than ever before.

As a result, in response to the current global recession many IT leaders are making the case to their chief executives to let them help bring down company costs by using technology to help automate and streamline tasks. This was reflected in the Society of Information Management's 2008 Survey.

Jerry Luftman, the SIM director who lead the survey, said, "Companies are looking at IT as a lever to cut costs in other parts of the business... Here is IT's chance to shine. Here's their chance to make lemonade out of lemons."

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

107 comments
prabu_0602
prabu_0602

where do i get these actual data

Anuj Sachdeva
Anuj Sachdeva

IT Services Outsourcing has been on the radar since decades but it really picked up in 1980?s and since then, lot of companies worldwide have been looking at outsourcing as an option primarily to reduce cost or to look for skill-set which is not available in-house. Over the years, outsourcing of IT services has taken different perspective and customers have started perceiving this as a strategic management option which wasn?t the case earlier. Customers started not only looking at outsourcing for cost advantage but also considered it to give a span of attention on the other business issues. The view gradually changed to that if a company is looking to expand its operations, than outsourcing is a profitable way in setting up their groundwork in other countries. Today, outsourcing is viewed by many organizations as a strong business tactic that ultimately is a superior economical approach to developing products, services and increasing the overall efficiency. The global IT services spend for 2008 was upwards of $680B. The numbers tell its own story, in 2005 it was around $500B which means around 9% rise year on year since then and these numbers are forecasted to rise around 6% for next couple years. What do all these numbers imply with all that is happening around us? The global economy has been tumbling since last one year, right from companies like Lehman brothers shutting down to Madoff?s financial story to impact on retail market. This is far worse than the last economic downturn in 2001, when IT services spend dipped slightly from 2001 to 2002 but the impact could be much worse in terms of numbers this time. There have been mixed reviews as to what would be the impact of all this on IT Services outsourcing companies. Few commented by saying that it will have positive impact in a long run as more customers will look to outsource and go to economical outsourcing destinations while few said that it will have negative impact as NAMER companies which contributes to more than 60% of total spend might even consider to restrict jobs within their own country and do less outsourcing to boost the economy. Just what we never wanted at this stage to happen, another financial fiasco: The Satyam saga. And that too right in the middle of all the global crisis and to kick off 2009 on a worse note possible. We had just got around digesting Madoff?s fiasco of $50B washout. Even though the Satyam fiasco is smaller in number compared to Madoff but this will have long lasting impact on Indian IT industry and the tumbling of Indian stock markets tells it all. On one hand, it might be a boost of revenues for top tier Indian companies as customers will be forced to switch vendors while on the other hand customers worldwide will think twice to outsource services to India and the real question will be on the corporate governance. Another thing which this will bring to the industry is that customer will now become more and more demanding and will look for something extra from the vendors. This will lead to few niche companies coming in the radar who are focused on creating value through innovation for customers business. Our company Synverse is focused on creating that value and goes that extra mile to increase business productivity and operational efficiency. We are focused on creating innovative frameworks with lower TCO and hosted on next generation technologies which reduce the lifecycle of a project substantially. While the global economy is going through a downturn and Madoff?s and Satyam?s case will make it worse in near term but still there is a huge potential for outsourcing players specially for the ones who are focused on creating business productivity through automation, services productisation and process reengineering. My view is while the top tier service providers will continue to sustain their revenue line if not grow, I think there are significant challenges ahead for mid level companies to sustain their revenue line as small/niche companies will definitely tap on that by creating more value to customers.

jrsprice
jrsprice

My fiance bought an emachine from a wallmart and I was very disappointed in her. Seriously, anyone with some knowledge in computers would understand that socket A's are virtually "obsolete" in today's society (plus another reason for our lousy economy). As a full time web programmer, I understand that many new websites and website applications being built today are targeting those that have all the current technologies. With manufacturers from over seas trying to make some money off the uneducated (tech declined) society over here is unethical and these products should be removed off the shelves. I try to educate my friends and family explaining to them that technology has changed dramatically from the past. I remember 4 years ago I had fried my AMD 3400+ barton chip (socket A - OCed to 3.0 ghz) and to replace it was a total joke. I decided to purchase a dual core when they had first reached our market with an asus mobo to support it. I'm 100% satisfied with my 5.6 vista rating machine! Multi-tasking capabilities ladies and gents! My conclusion. Technology is suffering from our economy at the same time, is technology hurting it? Many of these applications are being used by thousands of businesses to help them manage their internal data more effectively, thus causing job loss???...

reisen55
reisen55

Buy a Certified used Toyota? BMW? How about the bargain of all time - Dell certified refurbished. Wonderful bargains and often with warranty coverage. www.dfsdirectsales.com

poyzerjd
poyzerjd

IT Trend #4, "Green IT meets energy savings", is valid in making your top five IT trends of 2008, and I'm okay with the first few sentences ending with, "That changed in 2008". I do not agree with the remainder of your comments/assertions as to why Green IT meets energy savings is an important 2008 IT trend. While some private sector companies, governments and other organizations have publicly announced goals for reducing their energy consumption (reduced carbon emmissions, seems to be a popular metric; BTW, I have absolutely no problem with entities publicly announcing goals for reducing energy usage and providing updates of their progress towards those goals, and I think all of us should strive to conserve in our business and private lives) usually in the name of being a good global citizen, our consulting engagements don't show that as the major reason IT organizations really started embracing "Green IT" in 2008. Nor is increasing government regulation in this area driving this trend, and is only peripharally driving vendors to design, manufacture and sell more energy efficient IT equipment (they need to do it to continue to compete and to try to increase revenue, profits and market share). And, it isn't really about reducing OPEX, although there are many excellent things which may be done to data center facilities and to IT Systems in the data center to help reduce OPEX (to offset increasing energy costs - energy cost rates really haven't gone up at a much faster rate than over the last 40 years and not much more than the rate of increase of the CPI, and for many years over the past 40 at a lower rate than the rate of increae in the CPI). The real issue which is hitting many IT executives directly between the eyes, and quickly rippling up to the top C-level execs and Boards of Directors, is the impending requirement for a huge CAPEX to build or lease new data centers to replace or augment existing data centers which are at or rapidly approaching EXHAUSTION - usually running out of available power to supply the ever increasing number of individually inexpensive scale-out servers as well as storage, but occasionly running out of cooling capacity or floor space. So, it has been a hard core business decision to embrace Green IT to attempt to completely eliminate or significally delay (by 5 years or more) the $20 million to $200 million CAPEX of a new data center, and BTW, to also save considerable sums on OPEX. By completely changing past server and storage buying patterns, opting for much larger individual servers (in terms of raw computing resources, cores, and memory), and many fewer of them, and initiating major consolidation and virtualization efforts (and replacing 1U & 2U servers with blades for those applications which don't lend themselves to consolidation and/or virtualization), the IT Systems and Storage power draw in typical data centers can often be reduced by 70% to 90%.......and that drags along an equivalent reduction in mechanical power requirements (i.e., cooling), and also reduces the power distribution losses. Many detailed quantitative assessments across industries, countries, and IT organizations of various sizes show this to be the case. Initiating this type of planning and following through by implementing the plan can also allow the continued annual increases in computing resources and storage capacity for quite a number of years into the future without any significant data center facility CAPEX. So, while many of the existing comments on this trend argue about claims of global warming and whether or not it is mostly caused by humans or not at all caused by humans, I assert this 2008 trend came to the fore because of the recognition of near-term potential huge CAPEX IT outlays if IT organizations continued a business-as-usual approach, and much less because of altruistic and world-view reasons (or even selfish reasons) related to helping reduce or stop global warming.

icon_don
icon_don

Everybody is talking about whether or not the data reflects mankinds involvement in the issue of Global Warming and we are so caught up in that part of it, that we are ignoring a couple of very simple truths: All of our data comes from a time after we were well into the Industrial Revolution and the numbers were already stilted. All other comparative measurements on global warming/global climate change come from ancient events that could easily be considered cataclysmic. If we compare our couple of centuries of atmospheric influence against something like the Siberian Traps, for instance, we might still come out looking pretty good. But, if we take a look at our total over-burdgeoning influence on the planet, we certainly do look like a viral blight; it should come as no surprise to anyone that we are having a negative effect.

dbecker
dbecker

IT Management seems to lost its focus and direction, along with management in other segments of business. Questions such as, "Why are we here?", "What are we doing?" and "Just what the heck do customers want from us?" have vague answers. This should come as no surprise, since there is a financial meltdown in the United [Untied?] States which is impacting the rest of the world. Bad business decisions for decades have culminated in bailouts. As IT stands by and waits for the next shoe to drop or even if IT workers will have a job [a question well answered in such institutions as Washington Mutual], the pall of doom looms over even the best run IT institutions, if they exist. Bugets are being cut and IT is being asked to deliver superior products fast, cheap and good with shrinking resources, lack of direction from upper management and general confusion of direction in the face of an uncertain future. This is an important trend of 2008 which should not be ignored because it has heavy impact on where IT is going. Buy handbaskets. Managers can be successful in such environments, although it would be a stretch to say that they can prosper. They might survive. The key to such survival is going to be based on how well managers know their people. To do so, they must understand the seven points of view and the 19 inherited aptitudes as a basis of a matrix to know what their folks can do. They have to employ consensus leadership so everyone who has the appropriate expertise can break down requirements of projects to come up with a superior synthesis which can then be divvied up amongst the workers for the most efficient effort possible. The problem with this scenario is to sieze control and direct the movement instead of letting teams work out the details amongst themselves [a sort of neural networking, if you please]. After all, a dictatorship is the fastest way to produce results [although, given the record of banana republics, the end result for the leader may not be so benign]. The real challenge is to eliminate the confusion by setting reasonable goals [properly approved by the upper management going nuts in a completely dysfunction environment where competence is not possible] and maintaining both discipline and boundaries -- working toward a fixed goal without scope creep. Good luck for 2009!

fredscomprepair
fredscomprepair

I like the green IT projects. Some of my own branded computers are now using less watt's. As for cheap computer's Cheap is the term. You pay for what you get. Smaller is not always better. Offshoring is a complete idiot way of confusing comsumers who cannot understand an accent. Better to keep Americans working and consumers will be able to understand English? Virtulazation is just another way to spend new money. We have went full circle back to the days of dumb terminals and big buildings full of computer hardware. Whoever decided this is the way to go is a complete idiot. Of course they are pushing it. They want a monthly check from you, so you can put your feet up and let them screw up your so called saved data.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm sure you remember this one. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=647 Regarding #4 and 'green' IT, the generating the energy used by computing equipment has less of an effect on the environment as compared to the pollution caused by the improper disposal of used electronics.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

This is actually a big pet peeve of mine. The U.S. is particularly behind on this front, but the rest of the industrial world isn't doing all that great either. That said, I still don't think it's quite as big of an issue as the energy consumption issue. But both are critically important and need to be dealt with simultaneously. Thanks for bringing it up. As for Twitter ... :-P

marty398
marty398

As a consumer, it is hard to properly recycle electronics. Here in the Omaha area, Monitors are not supposed to be put out with your trash or recycling and they aren't taken at the HAZMAT disposal center (UnderTheSink.org). You have to do homework just to legally get rid of stuff. And it isn't free. Easier, but no cheaper, for business. Someone has to bear the cost. Fine. But make it easy for "Joe Six Pack". So easy that even a cave man could do it.

stuoutlaw1
stuoutlaw1

That is right on the nose My dad just closed a law firm and we have literally 3.5 tons of e-waste and not only do they charge for taking it but different prices per item as high as $25 per monitor to throw it away!!!! no to mention as much as $5 to take a simple phone. also try to get rid of 11 tons of outdated law books! same deal although a little easier still very costly to do the right thing!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You're in Oregon, we're in the South. Here in South Carolina, there is no mandatory electronic waste recycling, but disposal is a pain. You can't put it in the trash and county recycling yards won't take it. Electronic recycling companies are thin on the ground; I know of only two and neither will pick up, you have to deliver to them. $35/monitor or TV, $25/printer ($10/inkjet!), and $10 each for other electronic devices. If you can certify there is no hazmat (yeah, right!), you can take it to the local metal recycling yard and they'll take it for free.

mbrown
mbrown

Some of you seem to be getting ripped off on monitor recycling charges. We pay $5 per monitor and $5 per printer, the rest is 25 cents per pound. We can generally get rid of 8-10 pallets for not much more than $150, and that's mostly printers and monitors. We also receive back an environmentally responsible recycling guarantee. For monitors and printers that still work, we offer them to employees.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There are many charities that will accept used cell phones, erase them, and pass them along to needy clients. Women's shelters, non-profits, but my favorite is http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ They'll send you a postage-paid label. Oh, and $25 per monitor is cheap; we have to pay $35. I usually put them outside the computer room with a 'FREE' sticker on them and wait for them to disappear. Also, try craigslist; I've seen a few postings looking for monitor donations.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It's too hard for the average consumer or even for small businesses and remote offices. Batteries are a great example. No one should ever throw out a battery in the trash (they end up contaminating ground water). They need to be collected and taken to a proper waste management facility. But there is very little education/awareness about this and even fewer options for properly disposing of them.

reisen55
reisen55

But you have to ASK the employees of the companies that outsource their IT talent overseas. Management lies and always points to those marvelous salary savings as proof positive of good results. YEAH, for salary savings it's great but everywhere else it is a rotten deal. High Quality talent exsits overseas, but only here and there. And how can workers, half a world away, be intimately familiar with YOUR BUSINESS OVER HERE??? Cannot be done. But those salary savings and no health care benefits. Outsourcing companies, too, push in procedures and rules that COMMAND everything whereas a simple metric of RSN - REAL SOON NOW - worked great. CSC, ACS and ACN just love procedures. Tons of them. And like the British naval guide of FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS, they stick to the book. ALWAYS. American information technology has been destroyed by outsourcing.

bashir_khan
bashir_khan

Several studies published recently have shown that there are no savings realized by offshoring IT functions. Unfortunately many executives have failed to realize the changing dynamics of the business and the importance of IT. Baruch Lev of the Brookings Institution reported that from 1982 to 1998 the market value of US companies in the S & P 500 index has seen a significant change between tangible and intangible asset ratio from 62% to 38% tangible to intangible in 1982 to 15% tangible and 85% intangible in 1998. While similar findings have been reported in numerous journals and reports, few if any academicians, scholars, and practitioners have either understood or made the connection that the devaluation of ?U.S. intellectual property is directly linked to the widespread export of information technology jobs to foreign countries?. Based on the above study it is clear that outsourcing proponents need to get their head out of the sand and see the results of their actions. It is unfortunate that many in the media have not given backsourcing the press it deserves nor have they given adequate press to the lack of savings and the loss of intellectual property by offshoring ? who is protecting the shareholder. In this regard I am conducting a study to understand why outsourcing is still on the rise given the mountains of data showing that it is a wise choice. If you have a prospective please share by filling he survey at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=3BOKZJ90gcCFKr43R1tHmA_3d_3d

dokai
dokai

I was laid-off over the Thanksgiving break because my position, along with dozens other IT jobs at Pfizer, was turned over to Infosys in India. Needless to say, this is a topic that I've spent some time thinking about. The root cause, IMHO, is publicly traded companies and the metrics by which we reward CEOs. CEOs get bonuses based on profit, which is what the shareholders want because the shareholders want to see big ROI. Cutting costs is an easy way to earn your bonus if you're a CEO. When the shareholders start rewarding CEOs for worker retention and/or punishing them for lay-offs, then we'll start seeing the off-shoring trend stop. I don't predict that's going to happen until the lower quality of the services received alienates enough clients to impact the bottom line. Good luck to everyone out there. I'm considering what I want to do for my next career.

BarnumThomas
BarnumThomas

Actually, it does depend on the work. I've written severl books for the IT industry and always see better results form editors in India than I do those in the United States. The Indian editors put in the effort. The US editors are half-hearted in their efforts, though they are paid 3 times as much. By the same token, I've worked on several other projects that were outsourced to India that were dismal. For example, one eLearning company wanted to develop training on a topic at low cost. Instead of buying the equipment, they had me teach the concepts and techniques and then voice over video demos created in India. India gave me a script and everything was wrong, horrible, awful. I can see both sides. I think it makes perfect sense for some things to be sent overseas, but others certainly seem to need to remain here.

reisen55
reisen55

Indeed, I have no experience with editorial work from India but perhaps your experience with books is the exception. Information Tech support is almost universally horrible and there was ONE poster on these boards who reported good results from Tata. One. And of course the outsourced jobs to India support the domestic economy big time. All those tech support reps in Banaglore always travel over here to purchase cars, goods and items in our retail market, then fly back to India to answer phones.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

It killed the company. Infosys is one of the WORST outsourcing companies, in terms of quality.

reisen55
reisen55

There is nothing more destructive to the soul, particularly in IT, than to work yourself to pieces, be told you are meeting all of the Service Level Agreements and then be fired (replaced with cheaper workers) just because, well, they ARE cheaper than YOU are. This sort of low cost = great results thinking has destroyed IT in America. I would not recommend it as a career to anybody anymore. No matter how good you are, how many certs you have, how many years of experience, YOU ARE STILL AN OVERPAID, ARROGANT AMERICAN who expects a good salary for a good job. India provides low cost salaried workerw with no health care bennies to work for peanuts. Oh, and what about RESULTS???????? Productivity metrics? Nope, all management cares about are those salary and benefit expenses and getting everything done "cheaper,faster,better" which is one word to my mind. Hurts like hell and my condolences and warm wishes to the Pfizer community. InfoSys can rot in hell.

bashir_khan
bashir_khan

Heard the term Backsourcing! Well several organizations are getting rid of offshore resources and bringing the work back to the US previously outsourced. This happens most often when there are changes in the upper management ?C? level executives. What I have found is that the costs of using offshore resources from companies such as Infosys have actually risen beyond those of US resources, there is no stability in the Indian workforce, and most have just come out of a basic training class with no business knowledge. Unfortunately, these Indian firms will lock organizations into a minimum of 3 years of contract which is usually back loaded and it is too late by the time organizations come to grips with the situation. Several studies have recently been published which clearly show that there are no savings to be realized when offshoring. In fact what you will be doing is the following: 1. Increasing the costs to the organizations after the initial period 2. Accepting a lower level of service 3. Giving up intellectual knowledge of the organization 4. Losing institution knowledge. I am currently conducting a couple of studies on outsourcing and backsourcing drivers, if anyone is interested in providing their prospective I would appreciate it. Please copy and paste the following link into your browser to get access to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=3BOKZJ90gcCFKr43R1tHmA_3d_3d Please note the survey should take, at most, five minutes of your time to complete.

artLinkletter
artLinkletter

Absolutely CORRECT! And with regard to "procedures," it is not only the big consulting "gems", but also Microsoft. Without the pushing from Microsoft, there'd be no project management and supporting software, and no "project management office - PMO." Since we've gotten our PMO, there's nothing but TONS of paperwork which either says the same thing over and over, or has really no value other than to employ 6-10 people with 100K salaries. Technical projects are being run by basic administrative staff with little or no technical background. We spend twice the amount of time just getting these PM's up to speed on the subject matter. Is it any wonder our fabulous new application is a pile of junk? The PMO (and CSD, ACS, etc.) are all about the "process framework" and NOTHING about the actual work or PRODUCT!

BarnumThomas
BarnumThomas

I'm sorry, but it wasn't Microsoft that gave us project management. It was the horrible dismal failure rate of IT software projects in the 1990s. Companies were losing tons of money thrown at haphazardly developed systems. For this reason, organizations implemented project management. It may not be working in your organization, but the facts are clear: project management skills are extremely important to IT success across the board. Also, there was no outsourcing during the dismal failure years of the 1990s. BTW - I'm not talking about the economy at large; I'm talking only about IT efforts that failed more often than they succeeded. That is a statistical fact from the pre-project management days. I was there and lived it through the late 80s and all of the 90s.

artLinkletter
artLinkletter

I'm speaking of Project Management - Microsoft's Software. The majority of project managers I've come in contact with all have their PM certifications - and all claim to know PM inside and out and feel that knowing this software makes them project managers. I too have been around since the late 80's - most of my experience until the mid 90's was on a mainframe. I suspect the majority of project failures you mention were within the distributed environments. That's been my experience, as well as most PM's aren't technical, which only adds to the longevity and failure rate to any project. I know work with some PM's who call meetings every week, where the same thing is discussed over and over, and where anything I say is written down in meeting notes. Maybe it's my mainframe background, but I see all of this as a waste of my time - and since I'm the one coordinating and performing the work, and ultimately bringing the project in, on time, and on budget - I see most PM's as meeting note takers and glorified administrative assistants.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Ok, this one has been around for a while, just under a different name - SAS. I have really had problems seeing where this can take off. For starters it means you are totally dependant on your Internet connection - and are subject to the numerous Internet slowdowns that are constantly occurring. There is no way I would suggest to my firm that we store all our corporate data on someone else's "cloud". Another issue with our data is that it is HUGE. We deal with CAD files and some of them are 120Gb for a single file. Yea, I can see posting that on a Utility Computing network and waiting for it to download . ..

phorvath
phorvath

Granted it isn't realistic for most of us to post files that large to a cloud but what if your CAD application ran in the cloud? In that case, you'd be saving the file to storage local to the cloud.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Not likely. Neither CAD nor GIS are likely to become cloud applications; the files are too large and the disk I/O requirements are massive. Just thinking about how much bandwidth would be required to support such a concept boggles the mind.

mark
mark

Not all apps are suitable for "cloud" computing. CAD is one of them. However, for most companies the majority of their work is general office; MS Word, Excel, Quickbooks, ets. Those apps lend themselves very well to cloud computing.

billgraf
billgraf

Besides the issue of downloading large files, there's data backup, disaster recovery and security issues that need to be dealt with. I can't see a company placing it's Intellectual Property somewhere in a cloud. There's probably some legal issues waiting out there regarding data ownership and accountability and liability for lost data.

mark
mark

Naysayers, the followers of the world... We're already providing this type of service and have signed up quite a few clients, mostly small businesses that don't want to deal with a server in their office any longer. They WANT to buy computing resources instead of owning computers and the attendant headaches. Keep living in the past...

apoloduvalis
apoloduvalis

I think most big corporations won't switch to storing and processing most of their data in the cloud in the short term. They have had their own IT infrastructure for good reasons. However, there A LOT of small businesses without an IT department and that haven't had a proper server or backup infrastructure before. This is a whole new market for this kind of service, and I think will happen the same that happened back in the 80's: most corporations used mainframes and there was no place for PCs there. However, people and small businesses that never would need or could even afford a mainframe quickly adopted PCs in huge amounts and changed the shape of the industry.

billgraf
billgraf

For my little business, I do everything on google - email, website, photos, videos and docs, so it's all in a "cloud" as I own none of the resources. Works fine for me. And probably for most small businesses. However large companies with substantial IP on the line are not going to line up for this. Just pointing out that its not for everyone.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Others mentioned above that the majority of Netbooks run on Linux - and have indicated this might spread the acceptance of Linux . . .. possibly so but what happens when the user purchases their own Netbook with Linux and then asks IT why they can't run Outlook and why their "Word" looks so funny (duh - it's Open Office not MS). I feel a headache coming :(

gafisher
gafisher

That's why it's an important trend for IT Managers to watch. If your staff isn't ready to deal with Linux (or Mac OSX, for that matter) you'd do well to make that fact clear to your users.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

we don't support equipment not provided by the company. Buy what you want, but it isn't going on our network.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Back in the mainframe days, that was all those guys did: they ran the mainframe and tweaked the code to keep it running. There was no "IT" outside the computer room. Even the remote terminals were maintained by somebody else. Today, most companies have an existing IT support infrastructure, whether internal or contracted. I agree that IT should be constantly looking at new devices on the market to see how (or if) they should be integrated into the existing structure. But (and you knew there would be a "but", didn't you :) ), if there is no foreseeable business need for a device or if that need is already being economically met by existing equipment, I don't understand why IT should be required to support the new device. Sure, some people are going to buy netbooks or iPhones and want to use them for work, but a manager can't arbitrarily allocate resources to support those devices, particularly when those users already have corporate equivalents. In fact, business requirements can change, eliminating the need for such devices. In my corporate, for example, field techs used to have both Blackberries and laptops. We are transitioning back to standard phones because the business need a Blackberry used to meet is now more economically met with the laptop and a broadband card. There is also network and data security to consider. As a manager, I wouldn't want just any old device to be able to connect to my network. In the case of both my corporate and my primary customer, you don't connect to their respective networks except through a VPN, and [u][b]neither[/b][/u] corporate IT will install the VPN on any PC not supplied by them. It's not an unwillingness to support these devices, it has to do with limiting access to customer data and proprietary information. Hey, I'm a geek and I like playing with the newest toys as much as anybody else. But if there is no business need for those toys, I can't see a manager justifying support for them except as directed [u]and funded[/u] from on high. If you're a VP with a new toy and you want it supported and you're telling me to support it, you'd better add something to my budget for that support. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

gafisher
gafisher

Hi, Nick! My comparison applied specifically to Netbooks, though I think there's some justification for your expansion of the example. Certainly corporate mainframe guys weren't expected to support those "Visicalc Machines" that started coming in through the back door, but there are those who look back today and say "we should have." As Netbooks, smartphones and other outside technologies proliferate, IT Managers will find it much, much easier to support them than to fight them, at least at some basic level. Far better to be proactive than to suddenly find yourself sidelined, as was the case with those who refused to deal with the growing number of Apple ][ systems popping up on executive desktops. By the time the Mac came on the scene Corporate IT had to scramble just to keep a place at the table. My advice would be to get on top of the issue by finding out what Netbooks, etc. are already being used in your company, picking the most popular model or series in each category (I think Netbooks and phones would be the place to start though you would want to keep an eye on other technologies as well) and acquiring sufficient expertise to offer at least a modicum of support for the top contenders. Then publicize the list as "recommended" or "authorized" or whatever else strikes your fancy. The dual effect of this proactive approach would be (1) to keep IT "in the loop" as the established support structure and (2) to encourage users to stick to your stable (but evolving) list of vendors and models. If the "mainframe guys" had done this in the late 70s/early 80s (and some did) there's a good chance their careers would avoided the bumps that many later experienced.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We won't support YOUR netbook. If needed, the company will provide one. Everyone will get the same model so the support staff doesn't have to learn the ins and outs of five different makes and models, so we can have a standard installation image instead of having to install apps one by one, and so we only have to stock one set of spare parts. We'll buy that three-year-warranty an employee wouldn't spring for. We'll have a spare on the shelf so when yours does need warranty work, we can just move the hard drive and have you right back in business. We'll be sure it has up-to-date AV and security software. Our policy doesn't apply just to netbooks. It applies to desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, etc, for the reasons described above.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The number of electronic devices that exists today was undreamed-of 25 years ago. The old mainframe guys would never have made such a statement because they would never have been expected to support anything other than the mainframe. And why should I support your iPhone when you have a perfectly good corporate Blackberry?

gafisher
gafisher

>> " Our staff has made it clear --we don't support equipment not provided by the company. Buy what you want, but it isn't going on our network." That's a good rule in the short term, just as it was when the mainframe guys used it back in the early eighties. Remember mainframe guys?

JamesRL
JamesRL

At our organization, just plugging it in is a problem - plugging a non-corporate device is forbidden with penalities up to and including termination. We actually have a prohibition on bringing non company computers onto our property, which I have broken a couple of times, after hours, and of course, not to be plugged into the network. James

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I think Netbooks really took off when they started running Windows XP. I haven't seen any statistics on this but I would guess that far more of the Netbooks that are being sold (and actually used) are running XP. Nothing against Linux - Ubuntu is quite good - but I think the only Netbooks and Nettops that will have a major impact in the business world will be the ones running XP.

Editor's Picks