Cultivating Organic Tech

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.

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