Everybody’s doing it! Mark’s Predictions for 2012…

OK, I have to laugh that nearly everyone that commands column inches online has created a set of predictions for 2012. In my world of IT, there are literally hundreds of lists. Luckily, most of them seem to be converging on a few common threads. I guess the folks like me that think about the future are all collectively following the bouncing ball better.

OK, Mark’s list of predications for 2012:
1. The Cloud. OK, we all know it is getting big attention. Good and Bad. Any cloud provider that even hiccups gets front page on the Nightly Business Report and every other media outlet. Remember, the Cloud is in it’s infancy, and yet has so much potential. Everyone is rushing to include it, SOMEHOW! Nearly every Fortune 500 company WILL have a Cloud strategy, some pilots on their Tier-2 applications, and a piece or two of business that is actually migrated to the Cloud. The Cloud will see some real corporate attention higher up in the food chain. Tier-2 applications will start being seen commonplace in the Cloud across the board. Hindering the adoption for Tier-1 applications will be the few and far between failures which scare the crap out of CEO/CFO/CIO’s. By the end of the year, there will be more consolidation as the robust requirements of a true Cloud 99.99999999999999 world is felt.

2. ARM chipsets in servers. More of an experiment today, I see HP’s lead catching on and the world identifying big chucks of web farms to be ARM-compatible. x86 will continue to dominate, but thousands and thousands of low-power servers will arrive, in 1U and chassis/blade systems alike. Power will be the driver, and reducing consumption for well-behaved applications will be possible and actually REALIZED by the IT warriors.

3. Power per Unit of Work metrics. The Green Grid got the ball rolling a few years ago with PUE, but now the stakes are higher… everyone knows that the next major step needs to be taken. There have been many proposals for work-oriented metrics, a dozen or so I think. DCeP or whatever will arrive in 2012. The logical follow-on to the amazing PUE metrics, we will somehow see the emergence of a metric that characterizes the amount of POWER required to do a unit of work (i.e. process a web-form based shopping cart). PUE is great, but Watt-per-Work metrics are needed.

4. Tablet Wars will continue. iPAD2 (and the spring’s iPad3 release) will fight head to head with Android V3 and V4 powered tablets. Windows 8 tablets will likely be released too late in 2012 to have any real impact. Tablets hardware will settle on 10-inch screens, iPad-inspired thinness and long battery life. That said, it will be the quality of APPS which continues to drive tablet sales, and that is primarily a reflection about the quality of the SDK for developers. Apple continues to offer an AMAZING SDK, where every developer gets the same and has a rigid structure on UI. Applications on Apple always feel the same. Android will continue to struggle in this area since every developer can bend and shape the UI on Android in so many ways, it will remain a second in the race.

5. The SmartPhone WILL become the Digital Camera for most of us. I would expect that the smartphone people buy in 2012 will replace their 2-3 year old (or older) Digital Camera for the MAJORITY of the novice/home-user consumers. Sure photographers professionals will opt for dedicated Digital cameras in the $1000+ range, but the rest of us will simply look to their new SmartPhones (those being released since the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy 2S) for pictures and video from this point forward. The $150-$200 camera market will dwindle dramatically in 2012. (Too bad HP re-entered the market in 2010 after exiting it twice before).

6. Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) will be a hot-button for every Enterprise data center manager and operator in 2012, but the labor-intensive professional services required to stand up ALL of the existing software initially will continue to dog the industry. The main players (nLyte, Emerson, APC, Fieldview, Rackwise, etc) will enjoy wild interest and a ton of evaluations, proof-of-concepts and LONG sales cycles. Manual audit and entry will continue to be the norm in 2012 and will hinder adoption. While there will be a few of the early solutions (i.e. RFcode) that can identify WHERE physical assets are installed, most of the hard work is still ahead. Ultimately some form of physical standard (akin to the “19-inch rack 1U definition”) will be needed to solve this problem. In 2012, we will see a few greenfield deployments of DCIM with auto-location technologies… but just a few.

7. Virtualized LAN technology will be seen, in pilots, and then in acquisitions. Take companies like BIGSWITCH that are doing for LANs what VMware did for Servers. Bolt-in as much bandwidth below the line, and their hardware will present it northbound as a really big LAN pipe. Early proof of concepts are already being seen, and I expect some of the big switching guys (like CISCO and JUNIPER) to snatch up a few of these virtualized LAN players VERY early (likely before cash-positive status is achieved).

8. Social Media will continue to be frenetic up to the FACEBOOK IPO, and then calm WAY down as reality of what you actually need to DO sets in. Amazing capabilities, and we will all take advantage of FACEBOOK and the like, but not everybody (nor every VC) on the planet can participate in a stand-out FACEBOOK-like adventure. The early players will benefit from loyal followers and huge subscriber bases. The big players will provide more value and get bigger. A bunch of the wanna-bees will fall off the radar screen. Business will figure out how to more fully leverage a presence in Social-Space.

9. IT will continue to shift more resources from hands-on rack and infrastructure builders, to pencil-pushing service-oriented business managers. Since so many technologies are changing in 2011-2012, more and more of the mega datacenters will be owned by the likes of CyrusONE, CoreSite, QTS and Equinix. Co-location and managed services will be all the rage in 2012. Lots of colo build-outs in 2012 and the associate shift of IT spending from internal data sources to these mega centers for hire.

10. Dynamic Data Centers. We will continue to hear about data centers that can adjust themselves based on user/load demand. I am a BIG proponent of companies like Vigilent and PowerAssure who do just that (cooling and processing consumption respectively). VMware will also likely release a much more active version of DRS/DPM to do this. Gartner will continue to talk about real-time data centers, and every large Enterprise will kick the tires on automatic tuning technologies in 2012. Early adopter end-users will present themselves in case studies, and the automation momentum will grow. Will we start using the term ‘Autonomic Computing’ again? Hummmm….

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Mark Harris Fremont, CA
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