Servers 2010: Wonky Tech Trumps Hype Cycle - InformationWeek

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1/8/2010
03:14 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Servers 2010: Wonky Tech Trumps Hype Cycle

I've spent the early days of the new year--I know; it seems like we've been back at work for a month already--delving into the server landscape. Talking with vendors this week, the big thing that jumped out at me is the discontinuity between what folks like me ask about and what they're working on. As in, we're chattering about the cloud-computing hype cycle, while they're striving to improve power-supply efficiency and build virtualization management dashboards.

I've spent the early days of the new year--I know; it seems like we've been back at work for a month already--delving into the server landscape. Talking with vendors this week, the big thing that jumped out at me is the discontinuity between what folks like me ask about and what they're working on. As in, we're chattering about the cloud-computing hype cycle, while they're striving to improve power-supply efficiency and build virtualization management dashboards.This is not to say that there's no merit to the enthusiasm for the latest big thing, nor that vendors themselves don't also get sucked into the group think. However, I do believe that they tend to be better able to put things into proper perspective (I'm speaking mainly of the engineers and developers) and realize that there's no real gain without lots of technical pain.

Maybe what I'm saying isn't anything novel. There's always been a discontinuity between the 50,000-foot perspective of analysts and reporters (and probably CEOs, too) and those who wield technical tools for a living.

Anyway, so what set me off on this post was my conversation with one particular vendor. I'm not going to blow the whole thing here, since I'm saving it for in an upcoming column, part an ongoing series I'm writing this year. (Server Den: Architectural Differentiation To Dominate In 2010 was the first.) But here's my little anecdote:

In framing a question intended to elicit insight into areas where innovation was occurring, I mentioned Infrastructure 2.0 and cloud and new processor architectures. Pausing to await the response, I expected the vendor rep ( a high-level guy who has an engineering background) would take the bait and start rhapsodizing about the brave new future where dynamic reconfiguration of data centers and their networks, both physical and virtual, magically takes place automatically.

Imagine my surprise when all he wanted to take about was power-supply efficiencies, voltage regulators, and fans, and how focusing on all these components was leading to servers which cost much less money to operate and to cool.

That's my server story for today, and I'm sticking to it. Let me know your take, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at [email protected].

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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