informa
/
3 MIN READ
Commentary

Pulse Of Silicon Valley: High Hopes For Tech Amid Sagging Economy

You could call it denial, you could say some people are irrationally trying to wish the bad stock market away. But here's another side I saw this week, during a swing through Silicon Valley where I met with 10 pretty together tech companies: There's some serious -- albeit cautious -- optimism out there that now is precisely the time customers will realize they should invest in technologies which will make their businesses more efficient.
You could call it denial, you could say some people are irrationally trying to wish the bad stock market away. But here's another side I saw this week, during a swing through Silicon Valley where I met with 10 pretty together tech companies: There's some serious -- albeit cautious -- optimism out there that now is precisely the time customers will realize they should invest in technologies which will make their businesses more efficient.The biggest meme is that of data-center consolidation. The trend toward taking geographically separated collections of servers and resituating them in a few humungous buildings in the middle of nowhere -- preferably near sources of cheap, hydroelectric power -- already was well along before the market took a dive. So now there's even more of an imperative to cut costs, which means the trend toward consolidation is unlikely to abate.

Add to this the trend toward virtualization, which effectively puts consolidation on steroids -- and you've got an irresistible force that's driving computer users to take advantage of the new-found efficiencies, which are available for the asking.

But wait; there's more! Notably, a couple of buzz-phrases called SaaS and PaaS. Sure, everybody complains that they don't really understand what the heck software as a service or platform as a service precisely stands for. (Maybe they're kinda like that other thing, in that you know it when you see it.) Nevertheless, it's becoming apparent that hosting your apps off-site is often the way to software nirvana. Hey, you're reducing your own, internal IT headaches and costs, but not your ability to run the software you want and need. (Going forward, the interesting angle will be to see how -- and if -- the packaged apps providers are able to reinvent themselves in an increasingly SaaS world.)

Ditto for cloud computing. Folks may rail that cloud is just a funkier name for utility computing, and that the latter never really took off, so why should the former? The answer is probably that the technology stars weren't quite aligned a few years ago, and now they indeed seem to be, at least in the cloud. Sure, there remain big concerns about data security. (Though it turns out that cloud data is probably more secure than that laptop you left on the front-passenger seat of your car.) But the de minimis cost of both CPU cycles and storage is sure to boost cloud computing in a big way, perhaps all the more in a recession because its costs are more transparent and hence manageable.

So you got your data-center consolidation, your PaaS, SaaS, and your cloud. I'd say where all these trends are tilting toward is an inherent unraveling of complexity. Bear with me here, because this is counterintuitive, in that none of these things are in and of themselves simple. Which may be precisely the benefit. Because what they allow you to do is to move all the nitty-gritty crapwork and complexity away from your local developers and admins. Which allows them to focus on applications you need to run -- and add efficiencies to -- your business.

Which is where I came in on this post, positing the thesis there are indeed opportunities amid the recent round of rancid economic news. As long as the Dow doesn't drop another 500 points today.

So where are you stashing your cash? Please leave a comment below, or shoot me an e-mail directly at [email protected].

Like this blog? Subscribe to its RSS feed, here.

For a mobile experience, follow my daily observations on Twitter.

Check out my tech videos on this YouTube channel.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Carlo Massimo, Political Reporter and Columnist
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author