This wraps up another Midmarket CIO Forum and this one was no exception when it came down to the key benefits the attendees received. Generally, these benefits came from the contacts made in peer companies, the ability to learn from other's successes and mistakes, and the increased perspective on the solutions and vendors that were presented.
I was both the opening keynote and the closing luminary speaker, and my repeated message was "stay agile." This is because the only thing that is certain in this changing world is that we have to be prepared for change.
Let's explore some of the changes that are coming.
Virtualized Desktops on Steroids
One of the biggest surprises this year for organizations such as Acadia, the partnership of Cisco, VMware and EMC, was that their customers were more interested in desktop virtualization than server virtualization because the desktop is where the biggest management problems reside. Microsoft started a huge desktop virtualization push this month as it jumped to take advantage of this massive opportunity. However, also this week is an announcement by a gaming company that may become even more disruptive, and while I can't yet talk about the announcement, I can talk about the company.
OnLive has successfully demonstrated that it can virtualize high-end gaming into the cloud, and if you can virtualize high-end gaming, pause for a moment and consider what else could be fully virtualized and remotely delivered. We are only seeing the tip of this iceberg and things are soon about to get a little crazy.
Oracle is moving towards aggressive account control and already I'm getting reports that it may be overcharging for virtualizing its products. This means going back and implementing the kind of defenses that companies implemented when IBM did a similar thing in the 1980s, and assuring competition in shops, making sure contracts anticipate things like virtualization when renewed, and considering buying pools, large services organizations and large hosting companies as ways to create negotiating balance.
Invasion of the Personal Devices
If you think you've seen a lot of Android phones, tablets such as the iPad, and creative employee personal products come in through the front door this year, wait until you see CES in January. There are literally hundreds of new tablets, smartphones and connected devices being announced-many of which you will be asked to connect to your network. Make sure you avoid devices that aren't secure by design (allow side-loading, unlocked, etc.) and find ways to embrace those that are more popular; otherwise, they are likely to roll over you like some crazy technology tsunami and the cry "surf's up" becomes something to be afraid of.
Next year, you will begin to see Windows 8 emerge. Currently there is a huge fight at Microsoft as to whether it will be as slim as the iPad on one extreme or everything but the kitchen sink (including Xbox Kinect) on the other. With Windows 7 deployments just starting to ramp up and this next operating system designed, at least partially to be virtualized, the potential cost savings and flexibility could be very compelling. You may want to make sure you have the flexibility to allow it in and to embrace new concepts, because it'll be here whether you're ready or not.
Wrapping Up: Stay Agile
So my closing advice is to stay agile, and make sure that as you deploy technologies, you don't lock down onto any one vendor excessively or tie yourself too tightly to any platform or version of a platform. The one thing we know for sure is that dramatic change is coming and the firms that are best able to embrace that change will also best benefit from it. The others should get ready to run when the surf is up, because either you ride the wave or get pounded under by it. By staying agile you have a greater chance of riding that wave.