You\u2019re seated in a restaurant you\u2019ve never visited before, and the waiter hands you the menu. As you scan the items, do you look for something familiar you know you\u2019ll like? Or do you want something you\u2019ve never tried before?\nPeople respond differently to new situations and opportunities, sometimes with opposite reactions. \u201cBetter safe than sorry,\u201d caution some, while others urge, \u201cNothing ventured, nothing gained.\u201d\n+ Also on Network World:\u00a03 tips to foster a culture of innovation +\nSuch reactions, engrained deep in our temperament, are described by psychologist and neuroscientists as our degree of novelty seeking. The trait is associated with positive aspects, such as curiosity, and negative aspects, such as impulsivity. It follows a normal distribution in the population, and scientific research even suggests a genetic basis, which makes sense considering our species has sought novelty strongly enough to inhabit almost every part of the planet and beyond.\nNovelty seeking plays a strong role in the world of technology. We enjoy a steady flow of technical innovations, driven by the astonishing engine of Moore\u2019s law, the creative expression of new software, and the growth of thriving open source communities. But sometimes the relentless changes can seem overwhelming and disorienting.\nMany innovations in computing involve new abstractions and metaphors. Sometimes these look backwards, referencing familiar items like files and folders, email and YouTube\u2014though not many watch videos on cathode-ray tubes anymore. Sometimes these look forward, creating terms with entirely new meanings. Who\u2019d have anticipated presidential candidates debating tweets?\nNovelty seeking behavior\nWorking at a startup company such as PLUMgrid provides a great vantage point to observe novelty-seeking behavior among prospects and customers. Not surprisingly, energetic novelty seekers are among the earliest adopters. Often they\u2019re drawn not just by new technology, but also by new ways of thinking. Public and private clouds shift thought models as much as architecture. After all, physically it\u2019s still software running on servers with storage and networking, but the emerging mental model is illuminated by certain phrases and ideas.\n\u201cInfrastructure as code\u201d describes how DevOps can adopt automation tools that simultaneously increase agility, decrease cost and reduce risk. \u201cCattle versus pets\u201d (attributed to Bill Baker, then of Microsoft) illustrates the difference between scale-out and scale-up approaches. And the Chaos Monkey born at Netflix reminds application designers to ensure their microservices are robust in the face of unplanned disruptions. Perhaps all of these metaphorical animals prompted the naming of the popular ZooKeeper tool.\nSimilarly, virtual networking is undergoing serious changes in thought as well as technology. This software-defined layer of abstraction is not just about creating overlays; it\u2019s also about providing people new ways to think about networking.\nMany users start interacting with our system via a topology view, which shows virtual machines and containers connected together via traditional networking elements such as switches and routers. These are comfortable constructs for those arriving from the world of physical networking.\nBut such constructs can become obstacles to unleashing greater power. After all, that \u201cswitch\u201d or \u201crouter\u201d isn\u2019t a hardware box anymore. Instead it\u2019s just a description of a set of communications behaviors. New behaviors with no physical analog can now be created, such as policy-based service insertion of virtual taps for monitoring \u201cwires.\u201d It\u2019s comparable to a musical synthesizer, which not only mimics familiar instruments such as a piano or strings, but also creates new timbres unheard before.\nNovelty sometimes faces resistance, and for technology, that resistance often comes from central IT organizations within an enterprise. Such resistance seems surprising and counterintuitive. After all, wouldn\u2019t such a dynamic industry naturally draw novelty seekers? Wouldn\u2019t they welcome change? Where\u2019s their sense of adventure?\nOn an individual level, of course, many people working in IT are curious and forward-looking. The challenge comes from incentives. Often the prime directives for IT require dependable stability, predictable budgets and reliable security. Even as new cloud technologies promise improvements in all of these areas, as well as agility, the journey may involve disruptions and unknowns.\nKeep exploring technologies and seeking new ideas\nStill, exploring new technologies and ideas has never been more important. Strong IT leaders recognize the need to create opportunities for the novelty seekers in their organizations to investigate, learn and adapt. In this rapidly evolving market, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to meet more of them every day, and their imagination and energy inspire us.\nJust over 25 years ago, an unknown engineering student in Helsinki\u2014Linus Torvalds\u2014decided to share for free software he\u2019d created, something that at the time was indeed a novelty. This fateful step gave rise to Linux and the open source movement that made the data center programmable and gave birth to the cloud. Even after 25 years, we\u2019ve just begun the journey.\nSo, the next time you\u2019re in a new restaurant, put aside the menu and invite your waiter to bring something unusual and delicious. Unleash your inner novelty seeker, and enjoy something new. You never know where it may take you.