Moving to a Razor and Blades Strategy for Data Center Software

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For a hundred years, Kodak was one of the world’s great brands. Founded in 1888 by George Eastman, it dominated the photographic world during the 20th Century. In 1976 it held an 89 percent market share in the USA and their advertising slogan – a Kodak moment – beautifully articulated the thought that wherever photographs were captured, processed and printed, you’d find Kodak.

Yet, despite being one of the first companies to make digital photography accessible, in 2012 it filed for Chapter 11 insolvency protection and only now, after selling off many of its key products as well as a century of innovation and patent making, has it re-emerged in a new form naming a new CEO in March 2014.

You have to ask where it all went wrong. Kodak had been a credible and desirable brand with a strong stock performance track record; smart people, new products, global operations and distribution, IP galore. But just as the world went photo crazy in a way that had never before been seen, Kodak all but went out of business.

According to Avi Dan on Forbes “Kodak did not fail because it missed the digital age. It actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. However, instead of marketing the new technology, the company held back for fear of hurting its lucrative film business, even after digital products were reshaping the market.”

In a blinkered fashion, Kodak stuck to the knitting long after it was time for change, for fear of damaging sales of the products on which its fortune had been built.

Today our use of technology is shaped around our lives, not vice-versa. Need some functionality – get an App. Need more storage space – try Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. We need to quickly start thinking about how our day-to-day lives as consumers also informs our business decision-making, and stop carrying on as though the workplace happens in an isolated bubble.

Arguably, we stand on the brink of a tipping point. We’re already beginning to see how the advent cloud computing has started a revolution that could have far-reaching effects on the way that companies resource business technology requirements. Clearly one impact will be the way that data center capacity is acquired and managed. This business of change has got me thinking hard about the next evolution of DCIM.

As a company that’s been a leader in DCIM for four years now, it means trying to answer some tough questions, not the least of which is will the category simply fade away? Could data centers of the future be so simple that they no longer need management software? Or will DCIM morph into a new form? In a new guise, is DCIM the way to add intelligence to data center systems and create a pathway for a new generation of lifecycle services?

If you’ve been following our news, the launch of an extended range of prefabricated IT, power and cooling data center modules includes integrated DCIM as part of the pre-assembled and factory tested offering. Schneider Electric aims to eventually make each module manageable via a single IP address.

451 Research foresees a future state with in-house and commercial data centers forced into comparisons with public cloud service providers. Price pressure is likely to be intense with data centers generally much further along the maturity curve, capable of achieving higher levels of efficiency, agility and availability at lower cost. In this vision, the analyst predicts a greater level of use of IT and data center monitoring, control, analysis and reporting software.

The question is how that software will be consumed; purchased as licenses in what has already become an old-fashioned model (surely the celluloid film of the technology industry), or wrapped with services to help move towards business- or service-oriented goals? Do we get ready to embrace change, or squeeze our eyes shut, put our fingers in our ears and wait for a Kodak moment?

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