Technology plays both sides of the aisle

There is no shortage of crossover from the enterprise to consumers and back again

Gartner is out with a whiff of a theme -- maybe more of a meme -- in an unusually brief and cryptic research note titled “Globalize IT Through Consumerization and the Internet.” The basic idea is that technology that first debuted in the consumer marketplace -- such as IM, search, and Web apps -- is quickly making its way to the enterprise and is having a profound impact on IT.

However obvious this may be to those of us who used My Yahoo (or Excite) long before the first enterprise portal came around, Gartner has brazenly identified an interesting turnabout -- or “architectural inversion,” as analyst David Mitchell Smith calls it. Whereas IT architecture used to be internally focused, with purpose-built platforms, now IT is turning outward to absorb “Web 2.0” technologies already battle-tested with fickle consumers. Lockdown is out -- one click is in.

The implicit challenge to IT managers here, Gartner implies, is the forced trade-off of security and control for speed and flexibility, not to mention scalability and cost-effectiveness. How will IT react? Finger in the dike? Cautious pragmatism? Gartner’s not predicting that one.

Of course, many consumer technologies will never touch the enterprise -- TiVo, for example -- and certain enterprise technologies will land in consumerland. Some dashboards on are on par with state-of-the-art enterprise BI apps -- not that I would know!

Billions and Billions: The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article recently about how the data storage market just keeps growing by leaps and bounds. Under a headline calling data storage “A Dull Industry” (how dare they?), the piece claims analysts agree that corporate data storage capacity is growing 60 percent per year, with the revenue of storage leaders EMC and Network Appliance each growing 26 percent annually, compared with 6 percent for Hewlett-Packard and IBM. And although the $23 billion data storage hardware business is big, it still has a lot of room to run -- it’s tiny compared with the overall $1.5 trillion global IT hardware, software, and services market.

What’s driving the growth? According to WSJ, everybody’s getting in on the act. The San Francisco Giants bought a disk-based system that stores video of every home game from six different camera angles. Anadarko Petroleum uses 200TB to store oil-field imaging data. And Mexico’s toll authority deployed $4 million of storage to record videos of 800 tollbooth operators to deter skimming from the till. Big baseball, big oil, Big Brother -- storage just keeps getting bigger.

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