Resistance is futile: IT will love consumerization too

Appliance and workload-optimized systems in data centers are a logical outcome of the consumerization of IT

It's only a matter of time until the consumerization of IT bleeds over from your non-IT employees into your IT department. Although this may sound far-fetched, iPad-like systems such as appliances and workload-optimized systems are finding a foothold in your data center, and the trend has only started.

Consumerization of IT is here to stay
As InfoWorld's Galen Gruman explains, the consumerization of IT is in full force, as employees select hardware and software that best meet their needs without regard for corporate IT standards. The trend started well before Salesforce.com, iPhones, and iPads made their way into the enterprise, but these three technologies are important because they highlight the choices being made by employees. These decisions are often markedly different from those an IT professional would tend to support when making corporate purchases.

[ Learn about consumerization of IT in person March 4-6, 2012, at IDG's CITE conference in San Francisco. | Get expert advice about planning and implementing your BYOD strategy with InfoWorld's 29-page "Mobile and BYOD Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobilize newsletter. ]

All three technologies offered fewer choices and were less open than the technologies already in use by IT. Terms like "walled gardens" and "lock-in" were often voiced within IT to describe Salesforce.com, the iPhone, and the iPad in their early days of enterprise usage. In many respects, these concerns still apply.

Yet, all three technologies have found their way onto the corporate standard list. This doesn't mean these are the preferred technologies in every case, but they have a role to play in today's IT department.

The value-versus-control spectrum
Consumerization of IT hits close to home for me. I started to type this post on my iPad, then later on my MacBook Air. I use both for work purposes at varying times, and both are my personal devices.

It occurred to me that in choosing an iPad and a MacBook Air, I made choices that I'd never have expected even two years ago. For the better part of 15 years, I had purchased hardware and software that I could tinker with and had broad control over. However, the "it just works" nature of the iPad and the performance, portability, and, yes, the aesthetics of the MacBook Air became important decision factors.

By going to a Mac after years on a PC, most of my applications, tools, and custom scripts stopped being useful. I have fewer choices of applications and much lower configurability on my MacBook Air and iPad. It wasn't a painless transition. I still need to keep a Windows 7 and VMware Fusion license around, as my tax program of choice supports only Windows.

However, the value I perceived from a simpler-to-use and better-integrated system helped me get over my historical approach to IT systems and software. I highly doubt I'm alone in this progression on the spectrum of control and configurability versus integrated system ease-of-use and performance.

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