IT fix No. 2: Disk-free virtualization servers
If you were to go back in time just 10 years and mention that a 64-bit 48-core server with 512GB of RAM would be available for relatively cheap in 2010, they'd look at you funny, then wonder aloud about the possible uses of such a beast. Almost overwhelmingly, the answer to that question today is virtualization.
There's no doubt that virtualization is the path of IT for the foreseeable future. An essential part of that vision is huge multicore servers, each housing dozens of virtual servers, but the default configuration of those servers is nowhere near purpose-built for virtualization. It's time to change the defaults.
Most servers may now be aimed straight at the virtualization market, but they're still constructed for a single-server role. The additional hardware, heat, power, and size of these boxes don't do any good in a virtualized environment, and we could easily do away with them. Virtualization hosts need only three items: CPU, RAM, and I/O. Hypervisors can and should boot from internal flash devices or at the very least a 1.8-inch SSD, but the need for physical disk -- along with all its cooling and power requirements -- can be jettisoned.
A few entries in the server market fit this model to a degree, but they're all blades meant to reside in the appropriate chassis, all with local disk. In five years, I expect that ordering a blade chassis or a server with local disk to be the rarity, while diskless virtualization host servers will be the norm, with virtualization and SANs as common as keyboards.
Bring those servers to the smallest reasonable size possible, then go forth and virtualize. In 10 years, we'll tell our kids about way back when you could buy a server with an internal hard drive.
IT fix No. 3: Cheap WANs
Far too many remote offices in today's world remain connected by ancient TDM technology. When dialup ruled the scene, those 1.54Mb T1 circuits looked huge, but now they're abysmally slow, yet cost at least as much as they did 15 years ago. There's no excuse for it.
If Verizon and others can roll out fiber to the home, they can certainly roll out fiber to the business. Whether your remote offices are in the middle of a city or the middle of the woods, there's bound to be fiber nearby. Barring that, the strides made in delivering high-speed data circuits over copper in the past decade make that lowly T1 look even older and slower.
The major problem there is that there's no impetus for carriers to move away from the T1 and T3 cash cow. They've been milking those circuits for eons and have established them as high-price, highly reliable circuits -- and they are. However, the wheel of technology has moved well beyond their capabilities.
In five years, it should cost no more to connect an office in the Michigan suburbs to an office in Virginia with a 100Mbps or 1Gbps pipe riding over a common carrier than it does to set up today's T1. And these links should be just as reliable as the T1 ever was.
IT fix No. 4: A complete reworking of software licensing
I can probably count on one hand the number of IT professionals and end-users who've ever read an entire EULA. No doubt software licenses will always be written for the lawyers first and the users second, but the array of licensing schemes used by the huge range of companies is far too complicated. They can even interfere with IT's ability to keep the lights on.
When working to resolve high-profile problems in software and hardware, there's nothing quite so frustrating as determining the problem is related to licensing, either of the product itself or in some other area that inhibits normal use.