Virtualization Giveth and Virtualization Taketh Away

According to new research from Infiniti Research, there's "overwhelming" evidence that spending on servers is significantly slowing down across a broad range of markets. In some cases, it's slowing by a factor of five.

According to TechNavio, a research solution that examines the range of the IT industry's intelligence needs, this slowdown has a direct correlation with virtualization deployments along with the growing number of "green" initiatives.

In his report, Rahul Agarwal, co-founder of Infiniti Research and head of business development for TechNavio, says that worldwide research conducted in 2006 shows datacenters housed some 29 million servers, noting that servers have grown at a rate of 15 percent a year since 2000. However, he cites IDC figures that say server shipments grew 5.9 percent in 2006, and that his firm's analysis has that figure slowing to only 2 percent in 2008.

"By 2009, it will actually go into a sustained decline to reach about 24.5 million by 2014," Agarwal said.

To offset this "volume pressure," Agarwal said hardware vendors will be forced to improve unit margins by building in virtualization capability, memory and I/O interfaces into the hardware. "Our research also appears to indicate that some vendors may push thin client sales as desktop virtualization proliferates," he said.

Another interesting fact to come out of the research is the anticipated impact server consolidation and virtualization will have on the overall environment. The study showed that the average-sized server has the same carbon footprint as a mid-sized four-wheel drive vehicle consuming 17 liters of fuel in order to travel 100 km.

"Therefore, over the next five years or so, a reduction of somewhere in the region of 5 million servers will have the same environmental impact as taking 5 million four-wheel drives off the road," Agarwal said.

Google Continues Its Focus on Social Networking
Google is all a-twitter about social networking. The company continued its buying spree by acquiring the Helsinki-based Jaiku Ltd., a small company with a service similar to that of Twitter.

Jaiku officials describe their service as one that lets users share their "activity streams," which can be a log of everyday things as they happen. Such things can include recommendations, details of events a user is participating in and photographs. Users can post new items online through instant messages as well as on mobile phones using text messages.

Jaiku also provides a mobile feature that lets users view items that are posted by friends in the list of contacts on their phones. Mobile users can also choose whether they want to share availability status, location and calendar items with others.

According to its Web site, Jaiku has closed new user registration but is still permitting existing users to invite others to join. Current users can also sign up to participate in testing of new services.

Google has been collecting companies like stamps lately. Just two weeks ago, the company bought Zingku Inc., a mobile social networking company, just as rumors were circulating that it was in the process of developing its own mobile phone. Larger acquisitions this year included Postini and YouTube.

Gartner Says IT Needs To Better Manage Risk
Despite IT operations becoming more integral to a company's business success, larger enterprises have failed to adjust their processes for IT decision making and risk-management. This assertion was made yesterday at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 conference in Orlando by Richard Hunter, group vice president and Gartner fellow in Gartner Executive Programs.

Hunter, who co-wrote the recently released book IT Risk: Turning Business Threats into Competitive Advantage, also said there has been an increased dependence on the "smooth functioning" of IT, which has served only to amplify the business impact of IT risk incidents.

"IT risk incidents harm constituencies within and outside companies," Hunter said. "They damage corporate reputations and expose weaknesses in companies' management teams. Most importantly, uncontrolled IT risk dampens an organization's ability to compete."

Hunter defined IT risk as a threat to any of four business objectives: the availability of IT systems and business processes; the right people in an organization having access to the data and systems; the reliability of IT systems to provide accurate and timely information; and the agility of IT systems to change if a company either acquires another organization or implements a significantly different business process redesign.

IT risk factors are something to be managed, not eliminated, Hunter said, adding that proper management means making trade-offs between risk and return, between the perils a company can bear and the risks it would rather avoid. Until now, however, business managers haven't had the tools or disciplines to manage IT risk.

He suggested there are three disciplines IT managers should learn to manage IT risk, including a foundation of IT assets, people and supporting processes, a well thought-out risk governance structure and process, and the establishment of a risk-aware culture that attunes users to the causes and possible solutions for IT risks.

You Can Never Be Too Agile
"Agility" is apparently the watch word down at the Gartner Symposium this week. In his opening keynote, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, said IT leaders must be able to respond to change "quicker than ever before" because "there is a need for flexibility, and a need for agility."

Some of that agility will have to do with financial planning as well as technical issues. Sondergaard advised IT executives to create two IT budgets for 2008. The first, he said, should be one that reflects the same kind of marginal growth prepared during the past six years. The second budget should assume the need to cut costs in anticipation of a possible recession.

"The business plans that you had in June are probably not going to completely address the changed conditions of your business in November," Sondergaard said. "Together with your business colleagues and your CEO, you are going to have to deliver new efficiencies, new innovations and new ideas to sustain profitability and growth. IT will be core to many of those responses."

IT hasn't been -- and won't be -- shy about its spending in 2007 and 2008. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending in 2007 will go over the $3 trillion mark, an 8 percent increase over last year. That's the good new news. The better news is it will grow another 5.5 percent in 2008, reaching $3.3 trillion.

Gartner says that IT spending in developing countries continues to grow at impressive rates. The research says that figures show one-third of IT spending now occurs outside of North America, Western Europe and Japan. The company contends this development will result in new innovations in IT, along with giving rise to new competitors, new usage patterns and greater cost improvement benefits for users.

Mailbag: Microsoft's Privacy Puzzle, More
Yesterday, Lafe reported on Microsoft's new medical records site called HealthVault and asked what readers thought about how this might affect patients' privacy. Here's what some of you had to say:

I am unable to express how deeply disturbed I am by Microsoft's lackadaisical attitude toward health records and personal privacy. I have a strong distrust of anything Microsoft because this is the very essence of any Microsoft deployment. Throw it out there and see who bites. Oh, and don't worry about HIPAA, security or any of the dozens of other Privacy Act, CIPA and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, just to name a few. Run a beta version and let the public test it. All you have to do is post a disclaimer stating that the user is responsible for any lost, stolen or otherwise mismanaged personal information and you're all set. No responsibility or liability and it sucks to be you. Can anyone say MySpace for Personal Health Records? Welcome to Microsoft!
-P.S.R.

Most data breaches are caused by people, not the equipment. If I give my money to a bank, they are responsible for protecting it. Can you guess Microsoft's reaction if I tried to hold them responsible for my personal data? Furthermore, once data is out there, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to correct errors. If you get on the wrong "list," it's extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get it corrected. See what happens the next time there's an error on your credit report. I'm not sure how we can solve the issue of corrections.
-Bruce

Most people don't care if someone has cancer or kidney problems or other medical conditions. The people who need this information and history are the doctors you just started seeing for some new pain or in the city you just moved into. Medical records under the patients' control, released to the doctor, allow for the best-informed care. Every doctor requires a new patient's medical history in case there is a reasonable historical connection to a current complaint. If a patient fails to remember some medical treatment which they have previously received, it could cause delays in proper treatment, increased testing and added medical expenses. I think that Microsoft's HealthVault is a great idea and that, although this information is of a personal nature, not a lot of other people are interested in it, so personal control is the best control. Many don't have their medical records from their youth and someplace to consolidate those records is a great aid in getting a total medical picture.
-Ken

And John disagrees with our use of the word "inadvertently" in an item about Massachusetts' recent data spill:

You have got to be kidding. What part of this was inadvertent? Do people not even look at this? First of all, someone is responsible for what went into the database. Somebody is responsible for what was copied from the database. AND, somebody was responsible for sending out the disk. I have been working with computers for almost 45 years now, and for all those years people have been claiming that "the computer made the mistake!" While I will admit that computers are becoming more autonomous, they are still controlled at some point by people. My father wasn't very sympathetic about "accidents" and I don't see how anything a computer does is "inadvertent." We must be careful what we tell the computers what to do, because unlike Asimov's robots with their "three laws of robotics," today's computers do not have a set of conscience rules. They will do exactly what we tell them to do.

I cannot accept that any of this is inadvertent. I have made many mistakes, but if I were more careful, I might not have done them.
-John

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to escannell@redmondmag.com.

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