Welcome to 2009 – A Year of Great Change and a Year Loaded with Opportunity for Technology

I wish you all a happy new year. This may sound hollow as the upcoming year is starting out with immeasurable uncertainties. A recession is unavoidable as the economic mechanisms are working their way through the different economic sectors and into everyday life. Given the origin of this recession – the financial industry with capital being one of three pillars of our economic system– even systematic change may be in store. The greatest problem is decisions being held back due to these uncertainties thereby creating an even greater economical impact. Thus what we definitely are feeling as a crisis is a powerful well of change. This well will flood through economy, society and of course technology. We will need strong decision makers and innovators – real entrepreneurs – to embrace change and make use of its power to tackle some of the grand challenges built up during the last 50 years.

For those of us promoting new technologies the willingness to embrace change is often the biggest obstacle in putting these new technologies to use. Think about the argument of how cloud computing cannot be a good thing because it changes the relationship between our data and our computations we are so much used to. Or think about bringing the concept of automatic system operation to the administrators who will no longer be just operators but turn into system experts. All these high tech concepts require a dramatically changed way of approaching everyday problems and those of us implementing these new technologies know that inventing the technology is less than 50% of the way. The biggest challenge is attracting enough interest in all players the new technology touches, in order to make them embrace the required change to effectively make use of the new technology. The current situation may prove to be one of the most potent accelerators for technological change possible. So to all of you – those who invent, implement, decide upon or just make use of new technologies – make wise, well thought of and brave decisions embracing change. You will be the ones who will contribute towards a speedy way out of the current uncertain situation.

After giving you so much leeway ( 😉 ) by posting a few personal stories from the past summer to past autumn we are all back to business and I want to share some of the reading and thinking that I have done during the quiet time between Christmas and New Year´s Eve in the articles coming up this week. I will start out with a little catching up on the “clouds are bad discussion” started by Richard Stallman with an interview given to the Guardian in September 2008. I do believe there was a good deal of stubbornness and corporate mistrust behind condemning the cloud concept as you will read. I will then continue with a post on integrating the concept of automation – rather than just tools – into IT operation processes and tool infrastructure. After you have read Roland´s post on “Automating What?” in November you may be interested in how the concept of automation is integrated into everyday IT service management and how our concept of e.g. an automated incident management is incorporated into a working IT environment. Following this post I will try to show a landscape of technology and tools and the way the ongoing development is focusing in on automation as a concept. This process was started when tools were used to ease the manual process of maintaining system functionality (e.g. system management tools) and continued by the automation tools that enable complex changes to be performed by entering a simple command (e.g. change automation or run book automation tools). The process is now at a point where actually decisions are taken by the automation software (e.g. what hardware is used to do what tasks by which is decided by workload automation tools) and will finally come to tools that make use of all the experience of system administrators in order to automatically decide how to keep systems alive. Thus automating incident- problem- capacity- and availability management. This kind of tool is what we have been using and developing for quite some time now ( see the aAE) and the post will show how this kind of tool integrates with the whole landscape of tasks and tools involved in IT service management.

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