The computer industry and the customers it serves have proven to be extraordinarily slippery during the past 45 years.
Stories by Kevin Fogarty
A look at some of the products that have helped push rapid change in the IT industry over the past few decades.
When Hurricane Irene hit Eastern Massachusetts last August, the roads were filled with broken trees and downed power lines, leaving many without power for more than a week. When Diesel Direct, a trucking and construction businesses, was affected by this power outage, its founder sought an alternate plan for keeping the business active under such circumstances. He found his answer in the cloud.
For the first time since computers became a normal part of office life, end users won't be able to predict what their "PC" will look like in 10 years. That's partially due to the expansion of IT-as-a-service technologies that are making it possible to give users secure, reliable access to data and applications no matter where they are or what device they're using.
IT people who try to secure mobile devices in a big company face three big conceptual problems.
Only about 20 percent of Americans think Macs are vulnerable to viruses, compared to more than half who describe PCs as "vulnerable" or "very vulnerable" to attack by viruses, according to Alex Stamos, a security analyst at iSec Partners.
When VMware announced last week that it would loosen the radical change in price structure it announced only a month ago, it was doing more than mollifying a few disgruntled customers. It was responding to a revolt among customers, analysts say, even at large companies that rarely considered competing virtualization platforms due to VMware's lead in the technology.
If two technology trends were ever made for each other, at least in vendor marketing materials and generically simple diagrams of IT infrastructure, they are the consumerisation of IT and desktop virtualisation.
Surveys of senior IT managers consistently show that Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) are being tested or used for non-critical applications at fewer than half of U.S. corporations.
Until recently, almost no IT industry vendor or analyst questioned the assumption that nearly all kinds of virtualization deliver quick, significant cost savings compared to computing only in the physical world.
Virtualizing and consolidating data-center servers provides such clear a financial benefit that there are few companies of any size, in any industry that shouldn't virtualize at least some of their servers and applications, industry analysts say. But companies that start virtualization projects looking for cost savings, without planning for a second phase of migration that requires spending more on new tools than the project might save in short-term costs, will get stuck in phase one -- saving money on hardware, but getting only a fraction of the benefit of the virtualization products they've bought, analysts add.
Neither cloud computing nor virtual servers were intended as agents that would change traditional IT organizations, says Rachel Dines, a researcher at Forrester Research (FORR) who specializes in IT infrastructure and management. But IT organization and management issues are turning out to be nearly as important as the technology itself to making large-scale virtual-server migrations effective.
Neither Cloud computing nor virtual servers were intended as agents that would change traditional IT organisations, says Rachel Dines, a researcher at Forrester Research who specialises in IT infrastructure and management. But IT organisation and management issues are turning out to be nearly as important as the technology itself to making large-scale virtual-server migrations effective.
It's unlikely that hordes of VMware, Citrix or Microsoft Hyper-V users will flock to open-source virtualization or cloud-computing platform as an alternative to the hypervisors and virtualized infrastructure-management software they've already chosen, analysts say. So where does open source fit in the cloud world? Think lock-in and migration flexibility.
Two years ago, when the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF) announced a standards-building effort for cloud computing, most people involved in cloud computing didn't even have a common definition of cloud computing. Now there are so many categories of cloud computing and so many competing standards that users have a good chance of finding a standard that matches a particular need, but not much chance of moving among them easily, says James Staten, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.