• United States

New technologies, same old issues

Mar 24, 20044 mins
Data Center

* Recurring patterns in IT trends

The IT and fashion industries have a lot in common. No, I haven’t gone off the rails if that’s what you’re thinking. These two industries share a common characteristic: what’s “in vogue” seems to develop into pendulum swinging patterns where sometimes the old becomes the new trend. Although technology advances at mind numbing speeds and changes the context of IT, when you look at many of the core issues that IT faces, they typically involve people, process and business. So while, in many cases an issue may seem new, at its core it’s not that different from what has happened in the past. In many cases, you’ve seen it before.

For example, compliance with regulations is a topic that is getting a lot of attention these days. While the regulations are new and technology has advanced, the core issues boil down to the proper handling of information. This includes securing the data, auditing and archiving it, plus other data related tasks. So at a basic level, this is the type of thing that IT has done and will continue to do. However, the angst that many organizations are feeling regarding regulatory compliance is that the context has been changed by the regulations, and processes must be changed in order to bring the company into compliance. Changing processes can be a gut wrenching experience – particularly when it spans the company.

Another interesting dynamic is the focus by vendors on vertical markets and solutions. Many years ago when I began my career in high tech, the focus was on selling applications that would solve a customer’s business needs. It didn’t matter what equipment the applications ran on, they were buying the solution to their problems. Then the industry swung the other way – focusing on the newest and coolest technology. Although vendors were doing solution selling, in many cases the solution was still a collection of technologies that were horizontally focused. Today, many of the large management vendors, such as HP and IBM, are once again focusing on vertical industries. It will be interesting to watch how this trend progresses – this time.

In the management space, one area that seems to do a lot of flip-flopping is management control. Centralized management was “the” way to do it in the days of the IT glass house. Then came client-server architectures, which distributed management control. In reaction to some of the issues that resulted from the dispersed nature of client-server, the next trend was that although the infrastructure was more dispersed, you needed a more centralized view of the infrastructure. This was also driven in part, by the n-tiered Web architectures. Scattered into this mix is the ability to set up management systems with distributed administration capabilities, where an administrator can be authorized to administer a specific subnet or domain. So the question is, how will this pendulum swing as Web services and grid computing come to the fore?

We’ve also seen a swing in IT spending behavior. The boom of the dot-com era enhanced the spending behavior of IT organizations to bring in the latest and greatest technologies. Then that all changed with the deflating of the economy – it became “back to the basics” – the theme of the day is efficiency, cost savings and more.  So with companies currently deferring hardware and software purchases, we could be in for a technology resurgence once the economy recovers because of this deferral behavior – mind you, not a boom just a resurgence.     

These are just some of the pendulum swings that have happened in our industry, and for each of these examples, there are probably a hundred more. It’s just interesting, particularly in our fast paced industry, to step back and see that although technology has changed the landscape dramatically, when you come down to it, there are still many things that really haven’t changed.