Because the Internet and social media have become such wildly unlikely successes, I think we have become accustomed to seeing the electronics and computer fields as uninterrupted marches of success. Social media may even conquer the world now that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was named Time's 2010 Person of the Year and a movie based on his life may earn the Best Picture award. Not to be outdone, Google decided to take up arms in a cold-war battle against China. Picture IT as an all conquering force, with a data center infantry.
Still rather than an all-conquering army, IT, electronics companies, and Internet providers really provide a compelling example of Joseph Schumpeter's creative destruction.
For example, the same page of the WSJ describes product flops from previous CES events. The iSmell, for example, never got past the prototype stage. And while Apple is rightly celebrated today for creating an iWorld of must-have products, it's good to remember that Microsoft almost completely destroyed the company. Forces are already gathering that will threaten Google, even while its Android threatens Apple's iPhone and its cloud offerings threaten the entire Microsoft ecosystem. In fact, in this environment technology losers outnumber winners and victory is never final, only temporary.
While we can't always predict product successes, we can anticipate that progress cannot be impeded: creative destruction is merely its economic manifestation. (For a terrific satire on the subject, read Libby Malin Sternberg: From Papyrus to Gutenberg to Kindle" in the January 5th Wall Street Journal.
Data centers, as the infantry, also face technology choices. It was not long ago that some thought that water or other liquids would be reintroduced into data centers; rotary UPS began to compete against battery systems.
Today we talk more about containment, economization, and high voltage. Yet who can deny that like any other troops, we face changed tactics and strategies because of innovation. Where virtualization once seemed the ultimate solution to data center problems, containers, pods or modules, and the cloud change IT facility architecture so dramatically that virtualization seems old hat and time tested.
In addition to these ongoing discussions, I am hearing that DCiM will finally gain a foothold in data centers. I think it is fair to credit efforts to adopt PUE as a metric (Energy Star being a notable example) with highlighting how many data centers lacked sufficient visibility to their operators, which limited initiatives to improve reliability, reduce energy, and consolidate footprint.
Perhaps previous solutions were too hard to implement, before their time, or merely didn't meet a perceived but very real need. This year, though, expect at least some of the DCiM offerings to succeed and begin yet another transformation of the data center. Gartner, among others, also believes that DCiM will exhibit dramatic growth, moving from 1 percent market penetration to 60 percent penetration by 2014. I could be wrong. Consensus is no match for the force of creative destruction. Rest assured, though, in this industry a new next big thing is always right around the corner. The trick is to be ready.