Lately, I’ve started to see many IT vendors acting much like car insurance companies. Every other ad for car insurance on TV makes promises that you’ll “save hundreds on car insurance” with just a phone call! With that kind of promise, why wouldn’t you get on the phone to save those hundreds, right?
Obviously, if all of those claims were true, the insurance companies would be paying us to get car insurance, so, of course, there’s just a bit of exaggeration going on. As we look at some of today’s major trends, I’m reminded of some of these claims.
And, the sad reality to many of the vendor claims is they’re about as accurate as those car insurance commercials.
But, unlike car insurance, there is a bright side to this story. Although many of today’s popular trends won’t actually save money, they will have secondary benefits that might be even more desirable than saving cash.
A few years ago, pundits were lauding the huge financial benefits of VDI. After all, by replacing the fat, expensive, difficult to manage PC with a cheap thin client that never wears out, there has to be nothing but financial upside, right?
Reality set in as early adopters discovered that VDI carried with it many unanticipated challenges. In order for VDI to be done right, organizations needed to spend significant dollars on powerful storage, fast servers, expensive hypervisor and Microsoft licensing, and terminals that weren’t too inexpensive. Many organizations found that the actual real cost of VDI was, at the very, very best, a break-even proposition.
Although the immediate cost/benefit may not have been achieved, these implementations did enlighten the rest of us about the true benefits behind these deployments, particularly as other trends, such as BYOD and more desirable mobility have come into play. Further, as time goes on, new vendors, such as Nutanex, Pivot3 and Simplivity have sprung up to address some of the cost and complexity concerns that were raised in large part from VDI projects.
This is a great example for hoped-for cost benefits that turned into other organizational benefits instead.
First of all, let me say that I’m a big fan of virtualization. In the earliest days, virtualization was a great way for organizations to save money through server consolidation. With fewer servers came less cost. So, in a way, this is one trend that lived up to its promise to save money.
However, over the years, the virtual environment has taken on a life of its own and has become the most common method by which servers are deployed. At the same time, hypervisors have become more powerful, enabling organizations to deploy services in ways that weren’t possible before. As such, these organizations now spend more on virtual environments than they did before. Some may spend more and some may spend less than they did on physical servers, the fact remains that virtualization brings to businesses major benefits that include new workload availability features and major disaster recovery opportunities that weren’t available under the old paradigm.
As such, whether or not companies save money with virtualization is irrelevant; the fact is that the new opportunities have become more important than major cost savings.
BYOD is a current trend and one that many organizations are trying to figure out. I’ve heard BYOD also described as SYOM (Spend Your Own Money) with the implication that organizations will save money while employees start buying their own equipment. There’s a lot more to BYOD than that, though. The equipment is just the beginning. If the whole trend was just about money, then there might be some savings, but reality just had to rear its ugly head!
With BYOD, organizations need to spend money to ensure that the BYOD initiative doesn’t compromise organizational security or create massive stress on the IT environment. As such, money is being spent on software platforms and wireless networks in order to support this growing trend.
Cost savings? Probably not. However, it’s possible that the end result will be happier employees and improved productivity.
Even though we’re in the midst of the cloud hype factor, I predict that this trend will hold for cloud, too. Organizations will be able to move some services to the cloud and may initially save money by doing so, but as time goes on, I predict that these direct savings will erode as organizations begin to require more contract management and integration services.
Action Item: What’s the lesson for CIOs in all of this? It’s simple, really. Even though these trends -- and future ones that are sure to arise over time -- may not have direct savings associated with them, there are reasons that they’ve either made their way into organizations or are doing so. Don’t dismiss trends just because there is no cost benefit. Look beneath the surface at how such trends can benefit the business in other ways. And, most importantly, don’t believe that constant “cost savings” hype that we keep hearing about.