Sun CTO: Recession Fueling Interest in Cloud Computing, Virtualization

The global recession is forcing enterprises to look at such technologies as cloud computing, virtualization and green IT to find ways to cut costs and increase efficiencies in their data centers, according to Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos. It's now up to vendors like Sun and groups like AFCOM to give data center administrators the information they need on cloud computing to make the right decisions. As the recession deepens, demand for cloud computing and other technologies will continue to grow.

The global recession is forcing enterprises to take closer looks at data center technology that under normal economic circumstances they might have gotten around to later.

Greg Papadopoulos, CTO and executive vice president of research and development at Sun Microsystems, said in an interview that IT administrators who normally might have put off investigating such technologies as cloud computing and open-source software are now are looking at them as necessary tools as budgets are cut and demands on IT grow.

"In any other time, people may say, -Yeah, I'll check out [cloud computing] in a year or so,'" Papadopoulos said. "They might decide to look into it later. But the [current] economy acts like an accelerant. It's like dropping napalm."

Papadopoulos, who oversees Sun's $2 billion R&D program, will be the keynote speaker March 10 at the Data Center World show in Las Vegas. The show runs March 8-12.

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Both he and Jill Eckhaus, CEO of AFCOM, the data center association hosting the show, said the economy has been a driving force behind much of the activity in the data center for a number of years. That's been amplified since the recession kicked into full gear in the fall.

In an interview, Eckhaus said AFCOM surveyed many of its 4,300 in May 2008 about the impact of the economy, and then again in November 2008. She said that in the earlier survey, 11.9 percent of respondents were being asked to cut their data center budgets; the number grew to 15.2 percent in November.

Also in the later survey, 86.2 percent said they expected to increase their use of virtualization in hopes of reducing what they spend on new servers, a change from three to five years ago, when most were dubious about using virtualization.

"The economy changed some of the trends, and virtualization was one of those trends," Eckhaus said.