It won’t surprise you to hear that those of us who write for a living grow weary of the year-end pontification routine. I mean, here we all are, like you, scrambling to finish out the year and you expect us to be all profound or something. We have to come up with some gripping list in order to be worthy of attention. Heck, I haven’t figured out my own New Year’s resolution yet and I have less than 18 hours to do so. Plus, it looks like I have to shovel. Again.
So, I’ve been procrastinating (read organizing my files) for the past half hour or so trying to figure out how to focus my last few statements of the year 2008. I could make up some top 10 list very easily given all the different things I write about regularly, but there are three themes that keep bouncing around in my brain insisting on expression. So, why not keep it simple? I’m sure that you and I both would appreciate a least some simplicity in our lives.
So, here is my special year-begin 2009 list. (I prefer beginnings to endings, don’t you? Sort of like fresh-fallen snow vs. the black slushy stuff that has been kicked up off the road.) With apologies to Dr. Seuss, I’ll call these my Three Themes About Which to Scheme.
Green Means Green
OK, here she goes again with that tree-hugger stuff. I can see you making that icky face. But, I told you so, didn’t I? Granted, for the past year, I’ve only been able to back up my insistence that Green IT was HUGE with my very unscientific gut instinct. Fortunately, both IDC and Forrester Research recently have come to my rescue, along with AFCOM, an association of data center professionals. All three of these organizations have released statistics and survey results that point to a growing interest in green technology projects not just IN SPITE of the flagging economic climate but in many ways BECAUSE of it.
More than half the respondents to Forrester’s regular surveys about green issues report that they are either acting on or writing up a green IT plan, up from 45 percent six months ago. (Forrester’s polling about green topics covers more than 1,500 IT executives at more than 1,000 companies. They’re a mixture of enterprise and midsize accounts.)
Here’s the big one, folks: Slightly more than half the Forrester survey respondents said the economy would have no impact on their plans. In fact, twice as many said they would accelerate their efforts as those who said they would put the brakes on green IT. (10 percent vs. 5 percent) May not seem like big numbers, but definitely a big thumbs-up for green IT messaging and its very real tie to cost-reduction efforts. Approximately 38 percent predicted they would maintain their current project pace for green IT.
And here’s an even bigger one for IT solution providers: 59 percent of the IT executives polled by Forrester now include green considerations such as materials, operational features and disposal policies when buying new IT products. That compares with just 25 percent in April 2007. If you dig a little deeper, approximately 66 percent of the survey respondents consider such criteria “somewhat important” while 31 percent perceive them as “very important” in purchasing decisions.
IDC Industry Insights has a separate study out that queried than 350 North American companies about their sustainability initiatives and increased budget support for green technology. That study reports that about 47 percent of the respondents across all industries plan to buy new applications to support corporate green projects, while another 39 percent are thinking about contracting an outside expert to help with the IT part.
The AFCOM membership study that I mentioned reports that 78 percent of data center managers expect their 2009 IT budget for data centers to include an increase in green initiatives. Power consumption is a factor.
If you believe that your own focus on small businesses makes you immune to all this, there are some great statistics that I’m analyzing from Microsoft that say this isn’t so. With this segment, in particular, eliminating as much paper as possible is a big deal.
I’ve been writing about the coming of managed services and software as a service for many, many years now. But suddenly, there is a real impetus for companies to adopt both concepts, which fall under the bigger Cloud Computing mantra that will be on many columnists’ lists this year. It’s the credit crunch.
I reported in my Tech Target blog last week that even though many IT spending predictions are full of woe and wailing, anecdotal evidence suggests that there’s still money to be had. What ISN’T to be had is credit or the cash flow to pay for these things. I just heard from ANOTHER solution provider yesterday about the problems he had collecting on a project because of his customers’ own issues. This, unfortunately, will continue. But in a way, it’s a great dialogue opener for approaches to technology deployment that are paid for over time. The solution providers that will make it through this period without being burned by one of their customers are the one that structure these deals in such a way to reduce their own risk (perhaps by arranging for leasing) and at the same time make it easier for their customers to spread out the costs over a monthly or quarterly basis.
The current economy could be the best proof point we’ll ever get for the concept of IT as a service.
Mobile Thin is In
Last, but certainly not least, the client hardware world will be turned on its head this year. The adoption of server virtualization has prompted more companies to examine the possibilities of desktop virtualization, not only because of the security and management efficiencies that it provides, but because the lifecycle for thin clients is much longer (at least two years) than for desktops. Yes, we’re back to the green thing again.
Now, the mobile world is following suit, mainly due to the increasingly pervasive nature of wireless connectivity options. Expect the “netbook” category to creep into mainstream business usage during 2009. Yes, it’s mainly a consumer phenonemon now, but the price is right (around $500 per device), the management message resonates and the fact that more applications are available as a service is another supporting factor.
Every major hardware vendor is all over this category, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and some scrappy contenders including Acer, ASUS and, perhaps, Apple should not be overlooked.
Anyway you look at it, these will be the three big defining themes of 2009. You could separate out hot technology movements such as server virtualization, of course, but if you think about it, server virtualization really is intrinsic to all three of themes I’ve mentioned. Best to consider individual technologies and products in the context of those concepts and move forward from there.
Looking ahead with optimism and hope. Thanks to all of you who have supported my transition over the past year. May 2009 bring peace and prosperity.