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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Increasing Application Platforming Opportunities Amidst Rise Of New Technologies

Dale Vile points to a recent online research study conducted in January 2006 involving almost 6000 IT Managers and other IT Professionals reporting that a lot of organisations out there either going through or planning upgrade and/or consolidation activity, which will naturally lead to them reviewing their platform requirements. Even if they are not upgrading or consolidating, many are realizing that any platform installed more than five or six years ago is probably underperforming significantly by today’s standards. The volume - one in every four larger enterprises is looking at a packaged application platform switch or upgrade during 2006. He points out that larger organisations across the market were frantically implementing ERP and CRM applications in the second half of the 90s invested heavily in Sun, HP boxes while rolling out SAP, Oracle and Siebel applications. The software vendors are also luring their customers into upgrading to the latest releases, with more intuitive user interfaces, mobile enablement, integrated business intelligence, and all kinds of other goodies. This is quite a significant chunk and good for the industry on the whole.

All these are opportunities for who ? Just as Paul Strassmann alludes to, I think the biggest beneficiary of this trend would be server virtualization. Its earliest use was to consolidate underutilized server hardware onto a smaller number of machines. It has now grown into a multipurpose solution that enables greater reliability, improved management, and other benefits that make it an all-but-indispensable tool for enterprise datacenter administrators. To use an oversimplified definition, a virtual server mimics, using software alone, the behavior and capabilities of a stand-alone computer. The current trend is characterized largely by virtualization of resources - virtualization at the storage level, virtualization at the processor and memory level, and then finally virtualization at the application level. Vmware’s tremendous performance can be partly correlated to this. As Hal Sterner of Sun once highlighted, - there are a number of models to be considered - Asset acquisition model - that factors in means for acquisition, decisions on in-sourcing & outsourcing. Then in utilization model factors like driving better utilization of resources,intertwining consolidation & virtualization need to be addressed. The financing also throws open lot many more factors to be assessed – that include the likes of again outsourced or in-sourced resources, leasing or in the case of a utility model, a baseline acquisition with a variable lease so on and so forth. On the deployment model, options include running your applications in such a way that they really are accessed over the network and they really are set up in such a way you could think of having a dropbox environment, you drop your application into a set stack and it just runs . The decisions and options are getting far more complex – but nothing to complain as things like price/performance and ease of use are certainly getting better. CIO’s of course are still chasing the ever elusive business value out of these investments.

Update : Charles Zedlewski has a very nice related post.

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