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Mobility, Green Data Centers

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2008-11-26 Print this article Print

In 2009, these technologies can provide companies with a competitive advantage in what is expected to be a very tough year on the bottom lines of IT budgets, IT management and IT vendors. However, even in an economic downturn those companies that invest, develop and capitalize on technologies that save money while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business have an opportunity to grab significant market and mind share with new and existing customers.

3. Enterprise Mobility

It’s easy to forget that only a few years ago the typical office worker was bolted to a desk and connected to data by wires, cords and cables. Over the last few years, wireless technology—including 3G cellular data networks and widespread Wi-Fi—has opened the door to an anytime, anywhere business model.

The major drawback has been the necessity to grab data as needed and ensure that all data is synchronized on a real-time—or, at least, a near real-time—basis. “Ensuring that data is available when and where it’s needed has been an ongoing challenge,” says Bob Laliberte, an analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

However, that situation is changing rapidly. Although BlackBerry devices have made it far easier to tackle e-mail and hop onto the Web, newer units such as the Apple iPhone are completely breaking down the boundaries between traditional computers and pocket computing. Already, firms such as Salesforce.com and Oracle have adapted enterprise apps for the iPhone.

In addition, more robust Web browsers for PDAs and the expansion of “push” technology are making it possible to keep contacts, calendars and data synced at all times. “The technology is now completely there for true mobility,” observes Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange, an Alexandria, Va.-based public-private partnership that promotes teleworking and mobility.

In fact, the concept will likely gain momentum in 2009, as cloud computing becomes more widely accepted. More bandwidth, better software and concerns for security are also leading more firms to adopt thin-client computing. These systems access data as needed and store it on a remote server.

“Technology has changed the entire business model and made telework and mobility a strategic advantage,” Auten concludes.

4. Energy-Efficient Data Centers

It seems like only months ago that “green” represented little more than a nice idea and a noble cause. That’s until energy prices shot skyward and cost-cutting took on a sense of urgency due to deteriorating economic conditions. Now, “Green is on every company’s radar,” according to Daniel Starz, author of Greening Your Business and a lecturer on sustainability and environmental issues at Southern Illinois University. “Organizations understand how important it is from a basic business perspective.”

Chip and PC manufacturers are moving toward more energy-efficient components—including improved memory and resource management—but the big action in 2009 will be in the areas of virtualization and storage, Starz predicts. “Virtualization eliminates energy costs, maintenance outlays, cooling expenses and data center costs by as much as 90 percent,” he notes. “The payback is enormous, and it’s something organizations can no longer afford to ignore.”

Another development is the Department of Energy’s Data Center Efficiency program. Last summer, the agency introduced an application called DC Pro, which helps organizations quickly determine how energy is being used by their data centers and how they might be able to save energy and money. The tool is available as a free download.

Part of the problem in the past has been that the people buying equipment aren’t the same ones who are managing energy costs. But that’s a luxury organizations can no longer afford. “Businesses are quickly recognizing that they have little margin for error, and energy costs are now a huge variable,” says Anil Desai, an independent IT consultant based in Austin, Texas:

Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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