“Finally, I do not think the economic case is settled. The thing to bear in mind is that service…”

“Finally, I do not think the economic case is settled. The thing to bear in mind is that service providers operate their DCs as profit centers (its what they do), which is different from most enterprises, which operate their data centers as costs centers (support what they do). This is an important distinction, because the it guides how organizations fund and invest in their IT infrastructure—for the former you optimize you data center to maximize revenue generation capability, for the latter, you optimize to minimize expense. If you are looking to drive revenue, the only hurdle is to show you can effectively monetize the investment—give me $1.00 and I will give you a $1.50 back in a meaningful period of time. If you are looking to optimize for expenses, its a bit more challenging—while there is no inherent limit to how much revenue you can generate, this is a natural limit to how much money you can save (you cannot drive costs below 0). Often, if you have sunk cost in infrastructure that is otherwise up and running well, the best course of action is to do nothing—I find that if you are going to make an “invest-to-save” argument to a customer, you better have some solid, empirical data to back it up. The reality is that all this SDN stuff might end up being amazingly cool and useful but not really do anything meaningful for TCO. In recent history, both cloud and server virtualization were introduced with much heralded costs savings. As we have gained experience with these technologies, we have found them quite useful, but the economic angle has not always played out as expected.”

Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » Final Thoughts on the Open Networking Summit (via irq)

Re: The History of Tech

In Robert Brook”s ever delightful daily newsletter (you should really subscribe – it’s comforting like having some cookies with your favorite aunt or grandma – or, despite suffering through getting up at 4am in the morning, that serene feeling of fishing on a quiet, dusky lake in the early morning) he quotes Dave Winer:

I wonder if Google employs any historians to advise them on strategies tried in the past and how they turned out.

To which I replied, to Robert: hardly anyone tracks the year-to-year history of technology and strategies therein. I find it incredibly annoying. (Part of the problem is that in the past decade, the thing to cover became the web [Google, Facebook, etc.] instead of software itself.) As Dave points out, this results in countless incidents of buffoonery and is the basis for much of the power (older) tech analysts and executives have: since no one documents this history, they have stronger, history-based intuitions about what will work and not work. 

For those who are into that whole “reading books” thing:

  • In Search of Stupidity is one of the few books on tech history (I read the first edition – there’s been updates).
  • The Business of Software – the first 1/3 or so is mostly just the history of the software industry. One forgets how dominate IBM was and what a massive disruptor Microsoft was.
  • While Accidental Empires isn’t purely software focused, it’s a damn good history of the tech industry up to around 1990.
If you read those three books, or so, you’ll get that same Winer feeling that things just go in infinite loops, turtles all the way down and all that, in the tech world…and, it’ll make you appreciate how damn hard it is to have true, revolutionary successes & shifts like PCs (!), open source, the web, smartphones/tablets…and how easy & common it is to try the same dumb shit over and over.