If you were following us (@EMCBackup) on Twitter last week, you know we were at Gartner’s annual Data Center Conference in Vegas. It was my first time attending this particular event and my first non-vendor-sponsored event of the year. A nice change of pace for sure!
As I’ve mentioned, as a former analyst, one of things I routinely try to do is challenge my thinking about technologies and trends. Keeps me from “drinking the vendor Kool-Aid,” or too much of it anyway, and ensures we continue to develop solutions and messaging that keep pace with customer requirements. And what better place to do such testing than at a data-rich Gartner event?
Funny thing is that while I did collect a lot of great data (which I will share in this and upcoming posts) from the frequent real-time polls of the approximately 2,000 users in attendance and from the spattering of official Gartner Research throughout the sessions, it really wasn’t the data but Ed Holub’s keynote Driving Innovation to Achieve Dramatic Improvements in IT Infrastructure & Operations that got me thinking, and my guess is a lot of you too.
I remember reading an article just after the passing of Steve Jobs this past October that talked about Job’s many strengths, including his innate ability to innovate – or more specifically his ability to innovate not just for innovation’s sake. Hmm. Made me think then of the mad scientist in his laboratory, my dad feverishly working on his latest gadget (he’s an MIT graduate, need I say more?), the IT start-up revving up the newest update of its revolutionary data center technology, etc., and it still does.
Gartner defines innovation as “a process that starts with an idea and drives a change that creates value.” So, innovation is more than just invention, or technology. It’s a way of doing things that provides benefit – business, IT, cultural, societal, political, etc. – to someone or something.
It’s replacing traditional power and cooling data center architectures with ones that are “free-cooling”; it’s leveraging compute resources more efficiently through applications your IT teams have written; and it’s developing your own disk drives to change storage economics, as Facebook does and explained first-hand at the conference last week. It’s using a clever combination of server virtualization with deduplicated storage to deliver a unified backup and DR solution, as one mid-size enterprise customer has done. It’s challenging your IT and business views of the need for and design of backup and recovery solutions, and it’s bridging IT and business teams for business advantage.
The problem is innovative thinking is counter-intuitive to many of us, especially we IT folks. That’s why Gartner expects by 2014, less than 10% of IT infrastructure and operations organizations to institutionalize innovation methods sufficient to achieve dramatic improvements. Why is it so low? Well, according to Gartner Data Center attendees last week, it’s because you’re too busy to innovate. Yep, that’s what 41% of you said. Do I hear New Year’s Resolution anyone? If the size of the crowd (had have been 400) at David Russell’s backup session is any indication, I definitely do.