Cultivating Organic Tech

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2003-03-03 Print this article Print

Irrational exuberance is over, and sober thrift is in.

Give Forrester Research credit for one thing. Faced with a nuclear winter of IT spending, the IT think tank has come up with a green-sounding slogan to describe our predicament: organic IT. The catch phrase was introduced nearly a year ago, and its caretaker is Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. The slogan makes it sound like were in a wholesome, natural era for IT, not one thats characterized by Draconian budget cuts and intense skepticism about the promises of business advantage through IT.

The key building blocks are industry standards, commodity components and consolidated control. Gillett recommends only Intel-based servers and software that can load-balance between the servers. In storage, get on the path to virtualized storage as quickly as possible; in networking, deploy route optimization software. These strategies, in turn, are steppingstones on the path to grid computing, perhaps the ultimate answer to the question of how to use idle computing cycles.

Gillett says infrastructure resources are typically about 20 percent utilized and that efficiency can increase to 40 percent or even 80 percent. "When buying resumes, [IT shops] will need to buy only half of what they bought before," he said.

Other organizations are also talking about doing more with less. Meta Group calls it portfolio management. IBMs on-demand computing initiative, Suns N1 strategy and HPs Utility Data Center are ways to use resources more efficiently and are suitably organic from Forresters point of view.

Organic? A better name might be tightfisted IT because the bottom line of organic IT is about saving money. Organic techniques, properly applied, can reduce an IT budget by 50 percent over five years, says Gillett.

Call it what you want. The era of irrational exuberance is over, and the era of sober thrift is in.

Are you implementing the new parsimony? Let me know at

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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