Business-technology managers can get an idea of what might be on their shopping lists over the next few years by looking at the types of tech investments venture capitalists are making.
While venture capital hasn't returned to Internet-bubble levels, it remains a major driver of innovation in the technology world.
Blueprint Ventures sees green in a third-generation descendant of Amdahl, the computer maker that produced IBM-plug-compatible mainframes for decades. Platform Solutions Inc.--an Amdahl descendant, spun off from Fujitsu Ltd., which acquired Amdahl in 1992--has developed a new server based on Intel's Itanium 2 chip that can run IBM's z/OS and MVS operating systems. It's testing the server. "We did research on IBM mainframes and found out it's still an $18 billion business," says George Hoyem, managing partner at Blueprint Ventures, an early-round investor in Platform Solutions. "When you talk to CIOs, you realize there's nothing on the event horizon that will cause them to abandon these things."
Another nifty Blueprint Ventures investment involves Vidient Systems Inc., which develops real-time video-intelligence software. The Vidient system watches for anomalies on video-surveillance cameras, such as when one person uses a swipe card to enter a secured area, but two people enter. It also can be used for other purposes, such as monitoring for factory-floor accidents, Hoyem says.
Arch Venture Partners has made investments in companies producing radio-frequency identification tags and grid-computing products but may next put its money into companies developing products that exploit nascent dual-core and multicore chips. As single-core chips get faster, they require more power to operate, driving up electricity costs and heat to the point that they may damage the computer. That's one reason these chips interest business-technology managers who operate large data centers, says Arch Venture managing partner Patrick Ennis. And, he adds, business-technology managers will need to place greater emphasis on systems design and staffing their operations to meet coming demand.