August 21, 2014

Tidbits Picked on the Show Floor at the Gartner Data Center Conference

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I love those columns that sports writers seem to specialize in, full of short tidbits that don’t warrant full columns on their own but collectively make for a great one. “Emptying Out the Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind,” as Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe puts it.
With this post, we want to steal that idea and pass along a few tidbits picked up at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas this week.

Desktop virtualization is poised for growth

In a session called “Reshaping Storage Infrastructures to Support Virtualization and Big Data Initiatives,” Gartner research director Gene Ruth and research VP Stanley Zaffos passed along these stats:
  • When all is said and done, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can be up to 20% more expensive to deploy than PCs.
  • Up to 25% of VDI capital costs is storage.
  • Nonetheless, Gartner is forecasting 173% growth in VDI per year through 2014.

The point, as the name of the session implies: you’re going to need a lot more storage.

Killing workloads to make IT more secure

Neil MacDonald, a VP and Gartner Fellow, presented a session where he said the malware problem has become so insidious that IT can no longer say for sure that some applications and workloads aren’t infected. To fight back, he suggests routinely wiping them out and replacing them with code that you know is clean.
While that may sound radical, it’s really not. All he was referring to was using desktop virtualization to wipe the slate clean every time a user logs out and logs back in again, along with tools from vendors such as on RPath on the server side to ensure your application images remain pristine.

Preparing for disasters

Roberta Witty, research VP with Gartner, gave a talk titled, “How real world disasters are improving business resilience,” that was chock full of scary numbers. A few examples:
  • 42% of Gartner clients have experienced a supply chain disaster, after which their stock prices went down by an average of 19%.
  • Almost half of all companies (45%) surveyed by Gartner said they had experienced a supply chain disruption in the past year. Supply failure was the most common culprit, at 41%, followed by product quality failures and natural disasters, each at 29%.
  • At more than $72 billion, Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster ever, as measured by insurance claims

Among her points from all this is that companies have to (and increasingly are) plan for disasters that result in long-term outages and perhaps complete destruction of data centers and other facilities.

Turning to the lighter side

With so many heady topics at hand, Gartner figured it was time to lighten things up a bit on day, so they got “cyber-satirist” Bob Hirschfeld to deliver a keynote address on day 2 of the event. Among his observations:
  • To help illustrate what virtualization is all about, Hirschfeld used chicken nuggets as an analogy. Chicken nuggets, he said, are “an abstraction of the look and taste of chicken that masks the physical nature and boundaries of the resources.”
  • If cats were paid residuals for all their videos on YouTube they would control 90% of the wealth in the world.
  • His definition of social media: using technology to totally avoid live human interaction by posting messages online to mostly imaginary friends.
  • Voice to text apps are great, Hirschfeld said – it’s almost like making a phone call.

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