Don’t buy management tools for exoneration

Glenn O'Donnell

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One of the unfortunate legacies of management software is the still-too-universal force of exoneration as a purchase rationale. When the “blame game” kicks in, we turn to our management tools in an attempt to gather evidence that will exonerate us from blame. This is a dangerous, yet pervasive element of IT culture that must be exterminated. Perpetuation of these insidious forces will threaten the very viability of the entire organization.

IT has long been the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in the company, and quite frankly, we deserve much of this unsavory scrutiny. The way we’ve run IT is more characteristic of sloppiness than disciplined execution. Such an atmosphere is destructive to the entire organization and this destruction is obvious to many business leaders. They will take action to remedy the situation, action that will prove disastrous for those who fail to demonstrate progress toward discipline.

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PC Power Management Heats Up

Doug Washburn

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As the PC power management space is heats up, it’s quite fitting that today is “Power IT Down Day” – a participatory event put on by Hewlett-Packard, Citrix Systems, and Intel to encourage governments and businesses alike to reduce their IT-related energy consumption by powering down computers, monitors, and printers at the end of the day. Other recent examples also highlight the attention directed to the reducing energy consumption across PCs:

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Making Green IT Palatable For The Business: Should You Call Green IT, “Green IT”?

Doug Washburn

Dougwashburn In many of my recent interactions with both enterprise IT end users and vendors, the notion of calling Green IT something other than “Green IT” occurs with fair consistency. Some of the variations to Green IT that I’ve come across purposely call out an environmental agenda, i.e. Greener IT, Sustainable IT, and Eco-Efficient IT. While others are purely business such as Efficient IT, Energy Efficient IT, or Lean IT.

This very debate came up during a panel I hosted at last week’s Next Generation Data Center Conference, and it reminds me of a book I came across called the “The Sneaky Chef: How To Hide Healthy Foods In Kid's Favorite Meals.” The premise is that parents can encourage healthy eating habits in the children by “hiding” healthy foods in meals that kids already love — without their kids’ knowledge. For example, brownies spiked with spinach or chocolate pudding laced with avocado.

So how should you decide to message your Green IT initiative? My standard response is that it depends on your audience:

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Is The “Green” Data Center The Next Generation Data Center?

Doug Washburn

Dougwashburn Yes, but the shade of green will vary. While it’s clear that the next generation data center will be an energy efficient data center, incorporating other green data center features — from reduced water usage, to sustainable site planning, to sourcing IT gear manufactured in a more eco-responsible fashion — are not likely to happen at the same pace.

Why? Reduced energy consumption in the data center offers tangible and immediate environmental and economic savings, but also goes hand-in-hand with alleviating out of space and out of power concerns — challenges, that for now, trump purely green motivations.

At last week’s annual Next Generation Data Center Conference held in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to discuss the role of “green” in the data center by moderating a panel on the topic of “Greening of the Data Center — Practical Steps That Can Be Implemented Today With Real World Savings.” The panel consisted of major industry hitters — including Jack Pouchet of Emerson Power Network, Joe Prisco of IBM, Michael Patterson of Intel, Christian Belady of Microsoft, and John Pflueger of Dell — with all panelists having a stake in enacting green and or energy efficiency strategies within their organizations. Here are some key takeaways from the session:

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CIs are People Too!

Glenn O'Donnell

Glen O'Donnell Well, actually vice-versa! The configuration management database (CMDB) is a hot topic these days in IT. With my arrival at Forrester, I am ambitiously building upon the solid foundation of thought leadership my colleagues have built on CMDB. One topic I wish to address is the notion that people (yes, you and me) are configuration items within the whole CMDB discussion.

When people talk about CMDB, they usually refer to infrastructure components as CIs. In some more enlightened cases, they accept that applications and business services are also CIs. As we assemble all of these CIs into cohesive views of our world, we need to include another critical domain -- us.

That’s right, no view of the IT or business landscape is complete without considering the roles of the people. Some of us are technology support, some are users, some are external customers, some are executives, and some are outsourced service providers. In the context of business services, we are integral elements to the service definition.

Some will interpret this concept of relegating people to CIs as cold and demeaning. This is certainly not my intent, but when you realize that we are all cogs in the greater business machinery, it quickly becomes apparent that we are normalized at some structural level to business impact strikingly similar to infrastructure. That’s not cold, it’s just the way it is in a sound service model. It doesn’t mean anyone is any less witty, charming, or warm.

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Online Backup Markets Keeps Sizzling With IBM’s Acquisition of Arsenal Digital

Stephanie Balaouras

On December 6th, 2007 IBM announced its acquisition of Arsenal Digital Solutions, a major player in the online backup service provider market. Arsenal provides online backup services to customers directly but other service providers (particularly telecommunication providers) rebrand and resell Arsenal's online backup services as their own. So the company is both provider and enabler. Arsenal is profitable, cash flow positive and has not required funding since 2002. It has approximately 3400 customers. IBM did not disclose the value of the acquisition.

This is the second major acquisition in the online backup market in the last year. In December 2006, Seagate Technology acquired Evault for $185 million and in October 2007, EMC acquired Berkeley Data Systems (the company behind Mozy) for $76 million. It all really began however, with Iron Mountain's acquisition of LiveVault in 2005.

It is important to note that the acquisition was made by IBM Global Services (IGS), not IBM Tivoli or IBM System and Technology. This acquisition is not about filling in a product gap (although IBM is lagging in data protection offerings that support deduplication), it's about ensuring a foothold in a critical market. In fact, the engine of Arsenal's service is EMC Avamar - what Arsenal provides is a software as a service (SaasS) wrapper around Avamar, everything you need for SaaS such as multi-tenancy, billing, reporting etc. IGS is clearly indifferent to the technology; they care about a dependable, scaleable online backup service