This blog refers back to a similar topic I tackled on August 4, 2009 about trickle up technology. If you go back to my blog of August 4th, you will read that I proposed that cheap and cheerful technology as it relates to laptops has some relevance to the way we build out data centers.
I am cleaning up my files again. This time, the article "Why lo-fi high tech will rule the world" published in Wired magazine on August 24, 2009 takes the analogy to our appreciation/disregard of high quality sound and makes a similar argument that the rules of the game have changed about fidelity, and about a similar transformation in military purchasing. Again: I see an analogy that will reframe the way we look at data centers over the next few years.
Using the Flip video as an example of how buyers give up resolution for speed, ease of use, and less weight, the author talks about its success: it commanded 17% of the camcorder market in August 2009, and the article says, "Sony and Canon are now scrambling to catch up". If you gave or received one of these as a holiday present, you understand exactly what you bought and why it is popular. So why didn't Sony or Canon see this coming?
The author, Robert Capps quotes Clay Shirky saying "We're getting to the point where the Internet can support high-quality content, and it is as if all we've had so far has been nice - a kind of placeholder - but now the professionals are coming. That is not true." The article summarizes, "There comes a point at which improving upon the thing that was important in the past is a bad move...It is actually feeding competitive advantage to outsiders by not recognizing the value of other qualities."
Are you seeing where I am going with this? Traditional data center service providers may be missing the boat here on the concept of offering a different set of attributes to an audience sensitive to new criteria: MP3 v high fidelity records and Flip v higher quality camcorder. Entrepreneurs take note.
If you aren't convinced yet that there is a counter trend in data center architecture that will be happening here shortly, Capps provides another example of this outside of consumer technology to make the point: military planes. He describes three kinds of aircraft used for surveillance and "close air support" whatever that is. The cheap little unmanned Predator model that flies slowly and doesn't climb very high is "saturating" the combat market. Why? Because the game changed; it enables a new type of strategy. Situational awareness is now more important than speed, altitude, and armament. "The impact of the Predator illustrates the potential of the MP3 effect to transform almost any market. In fact Good Enough tech is already gaining a foothold in two other huge industries: the legal profession and health care."
I concur. That was the point I making in my earlier blog of August 4th. It struck me again as I listened to a co-location owner at the recent Gartner Conference present his vision of the mega-data center as best solution to energy efficiency. i couldn't buy the argument. Perhaps as we focus on building data centers where uptime has lower value because they failover exceedingly well to an alternative site, we can lower the HVAC energy and water demands across the industry. What do you think?