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Embrace, don’t fear, new data center technology

New data center technology that disrupts the status quo can be unsettling. But embracing change makes yourself more marketable and can improve efficiency.

As with server virtualization in years past, new data center technology is unsettling for some IT pros. But, if you embrace change, you potentially make yourself more marketable and can vastly improve data center operations.

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Are new IT trends right for you?

Where hardware innovation leads, software follows

Several years ago, a hardware vendor ran a commercial that showed someone frantically searching for missing servers in a data center. He eventually learns that the large room, full of servers was consolidated into a single enterprise server platform.

It was an amusing commercial, although this trend of server consolidation did not play out as the advertisement implied. In fact, it was server virtualization that brought about large-scale consolidation efforts. But the premise was still true: Reducing the data center’s physical footprint caused a good deal of anxiety in IT administrators.

Server virtualization as an engine of change
If you have fewer physical servers, you will need fewer employees to care for those machines. If you simplify IT administration tasks, you will improve the administrator-to-device ratios and require less staff. These fears about new data center technology were very real to many people in IT. To make matters worse, they were highlighted in the ROI analysis that justified investments in virtualization technologies. In many cases, this caused IT administrators to resist virtualization technologies.

At first, it seemed that the evidence would validate those fears. For many organizations, the number of physical servers began to drop with the introduction of virtualization. But this trend was short lived, and most organizations quickly realized that there were two sides to the “do more with less” equation. While they could maintain their current levels of output with less effort, many organizations realized they could use the same amount of effort to increase output.

As this practice caught on, data centers grew again. Recently emptied server racks were filled back up with new servers. Only now, each server was running multiple virtual machines. The IT administrator was not threatened by virtualization. Instead, they were empowered by this data center technology.

How new data center technology can affect vendors
Virtualization has had a similar effect on product licensing. Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell have all adjusted their licensing models to promote virtualization. With these new licensing schemes, users were allowed to purchase licenses for a virtualization host, and then apply that same license to multiple virtual servers on a physical host.

This option greatly reduced the cost of licensing the OS for virtual servers. Surely this would signal the end for OS vendors, right? Not at all. In fact, it may have been a saving grace for some OS vendors, who utilize these virtualization-friendly licensing models to make their products more attractive in the virtual marketplace.

Don’t fear new data center technology
I still hear whispers of people fearing their imminent demise if efficiency levels peak. Some worry about how CPU-based licensing models will survive the surge in processor-core densities. Others fret about how the virtualization of physical assets will affect networking companies.

While these thoughts are helpful in our efforts to acquire new skills and maintain relevancy in an ever-changing technology landscape, let them be a guide of where to improve and not a roadblock of what to resist. Instead of worrying about new data center technology making you obsolete, learn how to use these gains to make yourself more valuable.

This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.

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