Most IT people have opinions about what is likely to happen in 2009 as a result of the new U.S. president and a struggling worldwide economy. At this time, not a lot of folks are optimistic that conditions will be turning around anytime before the end of the year.
In answer to that, let's twist the topic around for a minute: What do you think probably won't be happening in 2009, thanks largely to these recessionary times?
For this article, we asked Michael Jannery, president and CEO of Entuity, to offer his take on this. His company is a U.K.-based provider of IT management software and services that deliver better control within a network.
Its flagship product, Eye of the Storm (EYE), provides automated continual discovery of network infrastructure inventory and connectivity to maintain an up-to-date view and knowledge base of the network from the core to the edge.
eWEEK and a number of industry analysts and knowledgeable observers also believe automation is the operative word for IT in 2009-in both storage and data center systems in general.
Based on the IT network problems that he and his company set about to solve on a daily basis, Jannery offers his take here for eWEEK readers.
1. Big capital investments are a luxury of the past; companies will no longer be able to afford high-maintenance and cost-intensive network management frameworks that are only manageable by IT experts.
Jannery sees a trend toward doing necessary capital projects in a planned, but segmented, fashion.
"What we've seen in the past, when we go into a recession, companies that implement big multimillion-dollar projects that start out with phrases like, 'Imagine if you could only ...' Well, those things are going to be gone for a while. What you're going to see is phase implementation of larger projects," Jannery said.
When it comes to projects such as instituting BSM (business service management) or corporate performance management deployments, Jannery said, "Companies will say, 'That sounds like a good thing to do, but let's do it in setup phases. The first phase will be to just fix the problem I have now; the cost savings that I get from that first phase will help fund the second phase.' And so on."
That way, companies can work their way through an initiative over the next few years, he said.
"I don't think very many people are going say, 'Let's go do that big project, and here's a couple million dollars to do it,'" Jannery said.
Jannery also sees more point products addressing specific problems or needs in data centers, rather than a big, overriding infrastructure management platform.
"For example, to solve a disk failover problem, people are going to go get something specific for that, and not get a full enterprise suite and pull the solution out of that," he said.
2. Oversimplified tools that provide quick fixes won't cut it when they require major manual input from IT experts to derive any value.
"The biggest overhead expense in the IT shop, of course, is always personnel," Jannery said. "Companies are saying: 'It's not my business to have a bunch of IT guys download a bunch of open-source tools so we can go become a programming shop. That's about the last thing in the world I want to be doing here because it's not saving me money.'
"It doesn't save them money to go get open-source [software] and then have six full-time programmers eating up the money. I think you're going to see a move away from playing with open source at this time and toward those discrete solutions that come running out of the box and take a fairly low amount of maintenance," Jannery said.
"You can't pick up the paper these days without seeing more layoffs from every size company. If using open source requires more people, then that's a bad idea."
3. Automation initiatives won't get cut because they'll still be much less expensive than keeping head count.
"Again, it goes back to staff," Jannery said. "If I can bring in something that takes a single person to run and the other choice is to bring in five people, I'm going with the automation. One of our customers, a California state university, used to take a week to generate a couple of reports to management, where as now they can generate 20 reports overnight using new automated packages.
"We are definitely in a climate where the ROI needs the evidence to show management," Jannery said. Many companies are demanding ROI in less than five months, and "automation is a great way to do that," he said.
"There's an old industry axiom that says, 'It costs seven times as much to run and administer the software as it does for the software itself,' when you factor in people's salaries and the like.
"Also, the less manual intervention in software operation, the less chance of server problems," Jannery added. "It's the changes that cause most of the problems in a data center."
4. Green IT initiatives also won't get cut because they will proactively produce cost savings.
"We have one large customer [with about 140,000 assets] that told us that for every 10 percent power savings they get, by adhering to workstation shutdown compliance rules, they save an estimated $140,000 per year," Jannery said. "They also estimate they've saved over $1.4 million in the last three or four months in doing that and other things in green IT."
You data center's performance may vary, but let's face it: Those are staggering numbers for any size company.
5. Network unpredictability will not be tolerated any longer because businesses won't be able to afford even the shortest service interruption, which always adversely impacts bottom-line revenues.
"The IT manager is always focused on expenses and revenue," Jannery said. "If my network goes down and is being used by my sales department, that's going to have a big impact on me. If my Web site is not available and people can't order products on it-if I'm Barnes & Noble or what have you-that's a big thing for me. I can't afford to miss any sales right now, especially in this economy."