Posts Tagged utility computing

Betting on the data center

Looking at the coverage of the Cisco unified computing announcement this week, I can’t help but smile.  The lead stories are almost all about the controversy this is creating.  To hear the press talk, the world’s IT superpowers are marching, in lockstep, towards an inevitable bloody trench war which will be fought squarely in the data center.

The drama will unfold before an hysterical crowd as industry titans oil up and wrestle until one or more of them squeals uncle.  Cue the theme from Rocky.

But all of this is based on the assumption that the information technology market is a zero-sum game.  It’s not.

The market forces that are flexing as information technology morphs beyond its traditional boundaries have yet to be charted, but one thing to recognise is that a platform transformation is well underway.  Virtualisation is another way of saying that the network is becoming the platform.   Unlike a technology shift, where established players hack away at each other for crumbs of an already baked pie, the opportunity presented by a platform transformation is amorphous and initially limited only by imagination.

Think about this for a second.  When the freeway system was being built, a lot of investment attention was focused on the obvious profit makers – the road contractors, the asphalt manufacturers, auto makers and tire companies – but the real road to riches was in market adjacencies.  Howard Johnson, who saw that lodging and hospitality had a place outside of the city, Stuckey’s with their deliciously gooey and ubiquitous Pecan Log, and the rest of the visionaries that looked not at the physical roads but at the opportunity they represented were cumulatively the real beneficiaries of the shift.

So try not to fixate too closely on the battle for rack space, and instead think about the tsunami of opportunity that the virtualisation phenomenon represents as it washes over the vulnerable lowland of market assumptions that have heretofore appeared so safe.  The processors themselves are but a ripple in this particular blue ocean.

Although, if you’re dead set on wagering, here are the hot tips:

  • Pick Dell to get knocked out in the 2nd round
  • Take IBM -7 and the over
  • Box the HP and Fusion-IO exacta in the 3rd race

Let me know what you win.

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