Friday, January 23, 2009

The last of the year-end Top 10 lists

This year I sent most of my holiday cards out with a January postmark on them. Maybe it's only fitting, then, that I waited until today to post a year-end list of sorts here at Data Center Dialog. I figured I'd let everyone else have fun pontificating first, and then, after the, um, clouds had cleared, I'd publish a 2009 List of Lists for the data center/IT ops crowd.

So, here are some of the items I thought were worth noting from the What-the-Heck-Happened-in-2008 Lists, plus commentary on the How-in-the-World-Do-I-Make-Sure-Cloud-Computing-is-on-my-List-in-2009? Predictions:

Cassatt Data Center Dialog List of Lists for IT Ops Folks Thinking about Clouds

1. For a list of the things that went on in this space last year, check out the 2008 "Cloudies." John Willis put together this first annual awards list back in December. John noted a couple of the bloggers on our blogroll (congrats James Urquhart and Reuven Cohen) for their influence and probably for their prolific output about topics in this space. They are great people to follow if you want to stay in the middle of the cloud computing discussion. (I'm also proud to say we ranked alongside 3Tera as a "Best Private Cloud Vendor.")

2. Thoughts on the cloud computing trend: From Dave Rosenberg of The Register’s "A crack in the madness of clouds: Sanity check 09?": "What will we see in 2009? Sadly not a miraculous understanding [of the term "cloud"], but instead a glimmer of hope that the cloud can live up to the hype." That would make my year, certainly. Expanding from there: "...Does this [cloud computing] concept apply to a corporate data center? Absolutely. Internal clouds will come to fruition as companies uncomfortable with the security or offsite nature of internet clouds start to figure out ways to achieve a high – if not infinite – level of scale internally."

3. A bit of advice that we can all use, now and again: "How to be less stupid in 2009" from Dennis Howlett writing Irregular Enterprise at ZDNet. Two things from this one seemed valuable. First, a bit about IT and the business side of things working together: "If you're a geek, teach the suites something new. If you're a suit, then understand at least some of these guys know more than you do about running a business." The IT equivalent of "Can't we all just get along?"

4. And, also from Dennis, a bit about the cloud: "Don't get stuck in the cloud. There are plenty of people pitching cloud computing as the next big thing and maybe they're right. But recognize that this is only one face of enterprise computing. Just cuz we can do it doesn't always mean we should and despite the column inches to the contrary, Google and Amazon are not the center of the universe." Dennis starts to say no one's really going to adopt a cloud model, but backs off a bit. "I don't see too many CFOs giving up their precious financial apps to some cloud provider anytime soon. But...however you want to define The Cloud, we've been doing it for years. Think instead of _aaS. Service based computing offers the opportunity to move away from capex to opex. Given the state of the global economy that should be a no brainer. Even so, pick your targets carefully." Totally agree.

5. Network World rattled off their "Hot Technologies for 2009" and cloud computing made the list, as you'd expect. Green IT made the list, too. Some comments I liked from author Neal Weinberg: "As we arrive at 2009, cloud computing is the technology creating the most buzz. Cloud technology is in its infancy, however, and enterprises would be wise to limit their efforts to small, targeted projects until the technology matures and vendors address a variety of deal-breaking problems." He also notes the rise of private clouds, but I can’t say I feel he got the definition right. His pragmatism is dead on, though.

6. Green IT, Neal says while highlighting that topic for the same Network World article, is about a new worldview, especially with the economic downturn firmly taking a stranglehold. "Can you afford to be green? Can you afford not to?" he asks. "...[G]reen IT doesn't stop at the data-center door, and companies can't just pass the buck to facilities managers. IT departments can and should undertake a number of green initiatives -- which won't break the bank either." Neal lists a number of pretty broad but basic actions, starting with one of our favorites: "Power down unused servers or desktops." As hesitant as IT can be about this one, there's a lot to be gained from investigating this approach, especially in dev/test environments. As I've commented before, progress has been slow on green IT, but the benefits are there.

7. Martin Veitch from CIO Mag (in the U.K., as you'll see from the spelling) talked with John Mahoney of Gartner for his list of "New Year revolutions." The two things I pulled out of that discussion: "Start taking cloud computing seriously. Cloud computing uptake offers a completely new way of provisioning IT so it might pay to work on understanding it now, especially as cost saving is a key promise of the model. ‘Some organizations are already well down the road but the mainstream will be still in the "trough of disillusionment,"' Mahoney says. 'The cloud is susceptible to the conclusion that this is not terribly productive in the short term. Our strong feeling is that this is not something you can leave until later.'" His ending suggestion: build mini-cloud applications to get "hands-on" time with this key technology. Again, pragmatism.

8. Mark Fontecchio pointed me to TechTarget's just-published SearchDataCenter Products of the Year 2008. At least I'm not the only one publishing lists in late January! Lots of new approaches in the technologies they chose that change things about the way you run your data center. (Even if I am partial to ours, instead of some of the things they chose.)

9. "The 11 Stupidest Moments in Tech for 2008" from Mark Sullivan at PC World. Some classics here. And not a word about cloud computing, you'll be happy to hear. From Microsoft's Jerry Seinfeld-filled randomness to Princess Leia reporting live for CNN on election night, this is just a fun read. Though, the comment about the Twitter-spread rumor of Steve Jobs' death isn't so funny seen in light of recent revelations about his health.

10. Finally, where is this all headed? I'll leave you with a couple comments from our own CEO, Bill Coleman, and what he sees for 2009 as picked up by SYS-CON Media. "Prediction #1: In 2009, it's all about 'the cloud.' Save money, move fast, and...ooops. Expect some problems. But remember, it's only Cloud 1.0. There's still work to do. Oh, and virtualization alone is not enough to make it all work." He goes on to make more predictions for this year about Google, social networking as our "platform for life," and identity.

Happy New Year. Or maybe I'll make a resolution to be early for something: Happy Groundhog Day!

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