I did a video commentary for eWeek from Newport recently while I was down there attending the annual APC editorial confab. The lead story in the Providence Journal was about $4 gas and accompanying articles were about the rising costs of food and nearly everything else in our petro-based economy.
The point I made in the commentary was as the U.S. economy suffers from continually rising costs and consumers are worried about their homes, the U.S. high tech companies strike me as particularly out of touch. Do consumers really care if Microsoft buys Yahoo when they are worried about making the mortgage payment. And although I didn’t attend Walt Mossberg’s All Things Digital conference, the news reports and video footage I viewed was mostly about yes, Microsoft becoming a media company, phones of all shapes sizes and networks and a world divorced (in my opinion) from economic and social reality.
So, I was happy to sit for a morning listening to presentations on data centers, power usage and ways companies can cut their electrical consumption ranging from simple steps to fully instrumented projects. APC, which was acquired in 2006 by Paris-based Schneider Electric, is what I define as a real company. Real companies help you evaluate how your company runs and then tries to sell you some stuff to make your business run more efficiently. There is not a lot of mystery in real companies. No one is trying to figure out how they will ever earn revenues. You don’t have to come up with some mythical ROI formula to justify the investment.
Say your company spends $250K a year in powering, heating and cooling your IT data center. Changing the rack structure, altering the cool air flow and fidgeting with the temperature might cut that in half. You might have to spend $250k to get that savings. Good idea? Bad idea? Depends on how long you will be at your site, how much you believe in the promises of cloud, hosted computing and are you willing to trade off ongoing service costs for capital investment. Like, I said, no magic just good old fashioned number crunching.
Let’s hear it for the real companies.