Festivals of Light

There’s something that’s long fascinated me about the winter solstice: the uniquely human way we respond to it, and the universality of that response. Animals respond to the onset of winter either by migrating or by hibernating. Our earliest ancestors generally migrated too, following the animals and their food sources. But at some point, in addition to harnessing fire, they also learned to salt and cure meat and to dry and preserve fruits and vegetables in anticipation of cold, lean months with few sources of fresh food.

That bit of technology is pretty extraordinary in itself, if you think about it: being able to live semi-independently of what nature readily provides at any given time. And then, people all over the world saw a need to determine in a very precise way when to expect the changing of the seasons in order to further assert control over their own circumstances. Astonishingly accurate astronomical and calendar traditions arose independently everywhere in the world, from the northwest corner of Europe to the Middle East, China and India and throughout the Americas, stretching back over 4000 years.

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Humans are pretty amazing. What’s even more amazing is how much we tend to think the same way, regardless of our wildly diverse environments.

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Takeaways from the Gartner Data Center Conference (As of Day 2)

So far, to be honest, I’ve been rather flummoxed by the proceedings at this conference. There seems to be massive confusion about “the cloud” and what it means for enterprise IT, both strategically and tactically. I’m not sure if the concern alleged in various sessions is something being generated by Gartner or flowing from their clients but there’s a rather dramatic difference in tone compared to their 2011 conference, which was full of optimistic and practical presentations from enterprises already well down the path of private cloud implementations. To wit:

Takeaway #1: The recurring theme from Day 1 was that enterprise IT is practically a dinosaur whose very existence is threatened by AWS.

There is an entire track called “Web-Scale IT: Can It Make Enterprise IT Competitive With the Cloud”. In session after session, analysts exhorted their listeners to think about how to use cloud techniques within their enterprise so as to not lose control of their IT operations. This despite the fact that an audience poll during the first keynote indicated that figuring out private and hybrid cloud was already the primary focus of the majority of attendees. And without regard to the various forms public clouds may take and the range of purposes they fulfill, Amazon was consistently invoked as a catchall term for “the problem” that enterprise IT must get ahead of, vs a complementary function. The notion of “own the base, rent the spike” apparently is anathema.

Keith Townsend (@virtualizedgeek) provides an excellent deconstruction of the notion that AWS is interchangeable with enterprise IT services here. Such on-the-ground realities aside, it’s useful to understand that this is the lens through which Gartner collectively (there are clear exceptions with regard to specific analysts) is organizing their commentary and advice.

Takeaway #2: Traditional infrastructure markets are well-covered and well-understood. Management and orchestration are another story.

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