The more time I spend working in the Information Technology field, the more I see opportunities. Usually, it’s simply a an old technology being consumed by a newer one – like traditional telephones being taken over by VoIP phones on the corporate desktop. I’ve championed that notion for nearly a decade, and only now is that really happening at an increasing pace. Cool stuff if you get a chance to use it too.
However, that’s not what I see happening right now. It’s much simpler and much more fundamental than another Microsoft Windows server taking on another role from another team or technology. The changes that are afoot are at the root, the foundation of enterprise computing and it has a social media tie-in. I have a message for my peers in the Information Technologies field. Your world is already changing, and if you don’t see what’s happening, you’ll be left behind.
The change that’s taking place renders the corporate desktop as we know it, obsolete. The disparate servers, inefficient. This is something that I’ve been watching for some time, but only recently have seen some indications that convince me that the world has turned the corner.
What are these things that change the entire game? Why, virtualization, thin clients and “web 2.0” software of course. You already are talking about these things. You are probably working with a couple of them if not a combination of all in some way. What’s convinced me that IT ten years from now will be a wildly different landscape than it is today is the fact that virtualization works, thin clients are actually viable now, and “web 2.0” software is past the “wow” stage and into solving business needs. Add the idea that many software solutions don’t care if they run on Windows/Unix/Linux and you now have a broad base of reliable, sustainable open source systems to choose from.
There is also the introduction of Gen Y into the workforce, who bring a different expectation to work. By being more mobile, working remotely via the web, and having social media & networking as second nature, this workforce alone will bring an impressive amount of change.
So what is the bottom line I’m saying for corporate IT? I’m saying that the desktop as we know it is dead. Windows “7” may be the last “legacy” operating system to be deployed. Desktops will disappear completely as well as individual servers. Servers in general will all be virtual machines run from high availability clusters (OS does not matter) in remote data centers. If you don’t have room for one, it’ll probably be cost-effective to simply lease them from companies like Amazon and such.
While Microsoft Office will still be the “gold standard” that we compare things to, it will become irrelevant in the coming years as open source and online versions of this type of software bring more options faster, and simply chip away at the venerable office suite.
Windows itself will still remain – remaining a popular option for the consumer computing device, all of which will end up being the laptop format. Windows, along with OS X and a couple popular Linux distributions will continue to drive these machines, merging more business and entertainment functions together.
The coming change is huge, and with it the opportunities as well. Like the change that started 20 years ago where mainframe and minicomputers were starting to be replaced with microcomputers, our current definitions of enterprise computing will change radically in the next few years. Are you ready? Will you be a part of it? What else do you see?