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Looking out across the vendors and watching buying behavior, there are at least six trends that could potentially massively disrupt how firms deploy and use computing technology.
Each is extremely disruptive and while many seem obvious to me, they may not seem that obvious to you unless you are in the middle of the change. Any one of these could result in massive changes to how IT is staffed (both skills and number of people) and how it is funded.
Let’s get started.
Appliance Computing At Scale
I actually thought we’d see this at the client side first but the big move is by VCE with V-Blocks, though it is implemented at a smaller scale with IBM’s PureSystems. The idea is to create a standard configuration of all of the elements (servers, storage, and networking) so that deployment time and unique service events are minimized.
The overall goal is to massively reduce complexity. The next phase of the solution is expected to include telephony and it already includes hosted desktops. Expect IBM’s System Z to migrate to this opportunity over time and pricing will likely shift to more of annuity model, where the hardware is provided as part of a service contract, more as an alternative to public cloud services than a partner, though partnering will be an option over time.
Thin Client Computing
Right now the three companies to watch here are Amazon, Dell, and HP. Yes I did say Amazon: their Amazon Web Services could easily become a back end for a thin client initiative, their Kindles and planned Smartphone are already effectively thin client devices, and the result would be an end to end solution. The likely target would be small business to low mid markets of business.
Dell is currently the most aggressive, pushing hard on their Dell-Wyse Cloud Connect dongle. Another wild card is Lenovo, which has been looking at this space hard but has missed a couple acquisitions and hasn’t rolled with a product yet. But emerging markets are ideal for a thin client solution and Lenovo is currently better positioned for those markets than any of the bigger players and partnering with IBM or VCE could result in a rather impressive offering and their relationships with both vendors aren’t exclusive.
The Big Data Analytics market has been, as technology vendors often start off, focused more on the hardware and software then on the solution for the first phase of Big Data Analytics. Now the critical path isn’t the hardware or software, it’s the decision maker and assuring they both know the choices they need to make and make them using real information timely. Google and IBM are developing decision engines at scale. IBM’s is branded Watson. Once deployed these should substantially change the competitive landscape by assuring the massive amounts of information companies and governments are retaining can be turned into better decisions that can be made more quickly.
Currently this is mostly being driven by Google at scale, though there are a large number of small companies chasing this opportunity. Reminiscent of the early days of the PC revolution we are waiting for either an Apple or a Microsoft to emerge to drive the market.
Clearly Google plans one of these but it is not clear which one and, like a lot of its projects, Google’s efforts here seem unfocused and underfunded. Still, self-driving cars and trucks, manufacturing-line humanoid robots like Baxter, drones, and other types of robots are either being deployed or in test for future product creation.
I expect this to be the most disruptive in areas where jobs are highly repetitive like assembly and driving but this will likely result in increased social unrest and unemployment during the transition. This trend should make a lot of people who will be difficult to retain unemployable over what should be a very short period of time.
Security in Depth
Currently led by Intel/McAfee but with activities cutting across the vendor landscape, this is largely in response to the militarization of hackers and the entry of governments, both domestic and foreign, as attackers.
The effort now exceeding what we call SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) now is beginning to extend from the processor all the way out to the real world and physical security. Its goal is anticipating attacks and better identifying attempts so that the site can be dynamically hardened specifically to address otherwise unanticipated tightly targeted threats.
I expect a lot of IT and security managers’ jobs will be randomly put at risk until this is fully sorted out. But it is clear the threat level has reached a point where companies are starting to fund massive efforts to ensure they don’t become the next target.
Making IT Customer Friendly
Largely led by BMC (MyIT and Cloud Solution Planning Workshop), the effort is mostly in response to threats like Amazon Web Services that have started to make IT redundant and allow IT to better compete with ever stronger cloud service providers. We’re seeing increasing reports that IT can provide far more affordable solutions at enterprise scale than services like Amazon but IT lags in ease of use. As a result there is an impressive focus to improve ease of use with IT so that these lower cost services are not replaced by their public cloud higher cost offerings.
More IT Trends
Those are the big trends I’m seeing in the IT space. Three more trends that will impact tech companies: the systematic elimination of Forced Ranking, implementation of NPS as primary executive measurement, and going private.
Currently Microsoft, Dell, HP and BMC have eliminated Forced Ranking; EMC, Dell, and HP have implemented NPS as a primary executive measurement tool, and Dell, BMC, and Blackberry have gone private. This should result in these companies focusing much more on you and your satisfaction. Only Dell (that I know of) has done all three of these and their numbers support how powerful that trifecta can be (up sharply nearly across the board and able to pay off $1B in debt in the last half).
In the end we are seeing massive changes both in and around the tech industry.
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