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

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Growing use of appliances and workload-optimized systems in data centers
The very same concerns I had when considering an iPad or MacBook Air are relevant for IT professionals tasked with doing more with less. The notion of giving up control and choice is often viewed negatively by IT professionals. But when the value of a workload-optimized system is considered, especially if it's based on open standards, the attractiveness of these systems begins to outweigh the reduced control and configurability.

The very same professionals reading this blog and running countless IT departments are happily toting iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and/or MacBook Airs. The ease-of-use and performance at certain tasks that these integrated systems provide are bound to affect how IT makes decisions for data center tools by showing the value of a different approach.

Think about all the time and effort spent on building systems from piece parts, applying fixes and upgrades to individual pieces of the system. How much more valuable work could you do for your company if you didn't spend hours or months on these tasks? Now think about how much time you spend keeping your iPad up to date: virtually no time at all. Why can't data center tools be like that?

This idea clicked for me a few months ago, and I believe it will take hold with more and more IT professionals. Some will ignore the logical conclusions, while others will question whether their current approach to building, maintaining, and upgrading systems is optimal for every situation. Note that it's not a binary conclusion: There is no reason to think that the growing use of workload-optimized systems means the end of the custom-built systems market. Both types of systems have a role to play in a modern data center.

For example, appliances are already a growing part of the IT landscape. IT has long been comfortable with appliances for important but nondifferentiating layers of the IT stack, such as firewalls. Now, customers are increasingly looking at appliances for higher-value IT capabilities, including business analytics.

Oracle's Exadata and IBM's Netezza Twinfin are two appliances that have been growing by narrowing choice and configurability while optimizing for a particular task. In fact, Oracle recently made a point of highlighting the growth of Exadata as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing quarter. That's what I mean by iPad-like systems in the data center.

Although we're likely decades away from replacing your systems of choice with a big, fat tablet device, the consumerization of IT will increase the willingness of IT professional to adopt appliance and appliancelike systems in enterprise data centers. Is your IT department ready for this shift?

I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

This article, "Resistance is futile: IT will love consumerization too," was originally published at Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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