Herd behavior demonstrated at Demo

There is safety in numbers -- but not in our security quiz

"Whatever happened to working alone?”

That’s the question Editor at Large Ephraim Schwartz has been asking as he prepares to go to this week’s DemoFall conference in San Diego. Ephraim has interviewed a wide swath of companies that will be showing their products at the show, and his initial conclusion is that the name of the game is teamwork: “Judging from the number of companies offering some form of collaborative environment, tool, or platform, you'd have to say that there is safety in consensus.”

For those of you not familiar with Demo, it’s a twice-yearly confab that’s part spectacle, part business, and wholly fun. In its signature feature, a progression of companies gets six minutes each on the big stage to demonstrate some new product or technology. It makes for exquisite theater: 70-plus amped-up, sometimes-desperate presenters pitching their hearts out to an audience of VCs, entrepreneurs, execs, and even a few journalists -- including Schwartz, who will be blogging live from the show. Ephraim has his own theory as to why collaborative models are suddenly so in vogue. “If everybody chimes in at the beginning of a project, by the end of it, no one will remember who came up with what idea,” he notes cynically. “So when the project fails, as most do, no one's to blame.”

InfoWorld has an event of its own this week, the fourth installment of our Virtualization Executive Forum. We don’t do demos at the show, but we do present a pile of case studies that speak to the challenges of implementing virtualization in the enterprise. As a companion piece for the forum, we asked Contributing Editor Galen Gruman to write up a series of five virtualization case studies for InfoWorld.com. His findings, Virtualization on the front lines, demonstrate just how tricky it can be to implement this technology.

“The motivations behind server virtualization are not that different from company to company,” explains Galen. “Companies want to reduce the number of servers or slow the growth of servers, and they want to reduce HVAC and power consumption. After all, if they can delay building a new datacenter, that can save hundreds of millions of dollars.”

There are, however, hidden costs, Galen discovered. Because virtual servers are so easy to set up, they tend to proliferate wildly, and suddenly IT has a server management problem on its hands. In addition, as organizations experiment with dynamically moving whole operating systems among servers, they often find they need faster networks. Enterprise storage requirements can increase as well, as can licensing and training costs. In other words, virtualization isn’t free. But for the projects Gruman profiles here, the payoff was great.

Do you know security?

Did you take last month’s IT IQ Test? Well, now we’ve come up with an even greater challenge: “Test your network security IQ.” Security beat reporter Matt Hines has compiled a 10-question brainteaser that made a certain editor in chief look pretty clueless (careful there, Matt!). Though, in my defense, I would expect even some CSOs to struggle over several of the items. Check it out yourself, and see just how much of an alpha geek you really are. Then tell me -- I’d love to hear from the undiscovered security gurus in the crowd.