In what may become a staple for The Data Center Journal, here’s a look at a few of this past month’s major news stories affecting the data center/IT industry.
Aftermath of Sandy: Effects on the Data Center
Hurricane Sandy took a bite out of the Big Apple, and many data centers in the region were put to the test. Companies like Internap and Peer 1 undertook admirable efforts to keep their data center running despite the dire circumstances. The hurricane was an unfortunate reminder that disasters of all kinds can strike and that disaster-recovery planning is critical to minimizing losses and ensuring maximum uptime. But, unfortunately, even the best plans can sometimes fall short under the right conditions.
You may be glad it’s over, but the national election early in the month changed very little, with the two parties holding roughly the same ground. The looming question at this point is the effects on businesses, particularly with the all but inevitable rollout of “Obamacare” and the upcoming “fiscal cliff”—an array of budget cuts and tax increases. If the past is any indication, Party A and Party B will do whatever they can to avoid any kind of drastic change to the political landscape, meaning more debt, more regulations and more taxes. Next year’s news stories may be rife with talk of an economy that has (in reality, if not officially) fallen back into recession.
Patent Wars Continue
Hardly a day goes by that some technology company doesn’t sue another for patent infringement. Even Apple and Samsung are still at each other’s throats over minutiae of design details (“Samsung accuses recent Apple products of infringing its patents”). (Apple may never—and should never—live down its ridiculous patent on rounded corners.) Although these stories make good fodder for news outlets, the trend of companies playing legal gotcha rather than focusing on designing better products is both tiresome and an unfortunate drain on resources in an already slow economy. Patent reform is certainly overdue, but it may be slow in coming.
Otellini to Leave Intel
In something of a surprise revelation, Paul Otellini announced he is retiring from chip giant Intel after some 40 years with the company, the last 8 of which he served as CEO. Otellini’s strategy as head of the company focused on Intel’s core x86 processor business, but the company has been somewhat behind the mobile-device trend of the past several years. Intel’s processors are generally at the top of the heap in performance, but their relatively high power consumption has forced the company to shift focus toward efficiency in order to capture share in the mobile market, which is dominated by ARM. Otellini’s successor will also need to guide the company in facing challenges from ARM-based processors in the server segment, as these chips aim to steal share through greater performance per watt rather than tackling the chip giant’s almost unassailable position in raw performance. With both the mobile market and, increasingly, the data center market focusing on power efficiency, Otellini is leaving Intel at a critical juncture.
Now that Windows 8—with its new Metro-style interface that sets aside many of the characteristics and features of preceding versions—has been on the market for some time, the natural question is whether this version is the “New Coke” of the operating-system world (“Windows 8 Fizzling, Time For Windows Classic?”). But the OS, which integrates a strong focus on serving mobile-device markets, isn’t receiving just bad reviews (“Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet”). Only time will tell if Windows 8 is facing genuine criticism for real failings or if many critics are simply slow to accept change.
HP’s Troubles Continue
The past decade or so has been checkered for Hewlett-Packard, which has had four different CEOs in as much time. Scandals have plagued the company, with the latest revolving around its 2011 acquisition of software company Autonomy for $11 billion. “Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday it had failed to detect ‘outright misrepresentations’ about the value of Autonomy before paying about $11 billion for the software firm last year,” according to MecuryNews.com (“Hewlett-Packard's stock plunges on Autonomy revelations”). Current HP CEO Meg Whitman must now deal with this latest issue, which results from the purchase made under the preceding CEO, Leo Apotheker. HP, which is already struggling to establish its identity (having earlier considered spinning off its PC business), reported losses of $8.9 billion and has seen steadily declining stock prices over most of this year.
Shock: The U.N. Wants Control of the Internet
As ZDNet (“U.N. readies for protests on eve of secret Internet regulation treaty”) notes, “In a closed-door meeting this weekend in Dubai, the telecommunications arm of the United Nations—the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)—plans to seize a big role in Internet governance.” This upcoming meeting (the results of which will likely be revealed next month) should really come as no surprise. A group of bureaucrats—and you probably don’t even remember electing a single one of them—wants to garner more power and more money. Isn’t this really just the story of history? (Yes, the heading above is laced with sarcasm.)
Although this breaking story is disappointing in the sense that companies and individual Internet users stand to gain little from centralized control of what is really a decentralized “entity,” it should be entirely expected. The world is reaching the culmination of the nation-state age, where governments have sought to consolidate as much power as possible—although, clearly, this is a failed policy: financial ruin took down the erstwhile Soviet Union, and it will eventually do so with the European Union and the U.S. Nevertheless, although this project of centralized power is ultimately doomed to failure, proponents of freedom—in this case, for the Internet—can still win something of a victory through sufficiently loud protest. According to CNet.com (“U.N. summit may usher in more Internet regulations”), “Another WCITLeaks-posted document (PDF) from a staff retreat in Geneva in September shows the ITU is highly sensitive to public criticism and the perception it’s engaged in a power grab.”
Next Year Will Be Interesting
With a number of different stories ranging from the state of the economy to growing demands for energy efficiency in data centers to increasingly ridiculous patent litigation, 2013 should be an interesting year in the technology sector at large and for data centers in particular.
Photo courtesy of US Mission Geneva