Trick or treat: 2011 IT Zombie technology poll

October 18, 2011 – 11:25 am

Warning: Do not be scared, however be ready for some trick and treat fun, it is after all, the Halloween season.

I like new emerging technologies and trends along with Zombie technologies, you know, those technologies that have been declared dead yet are still being enhanced, sold and used.

Zombie technologies as a name may be new for some, while others will have a realization of experiencing something from the past, technologies being declared deceased yet still alive and being used. Zombie technologies are those that have been declared dead, yet still alive enabling productivity for customers that use them and often profits for the vendors who sell them.

Zombie technologies

Some people consider a technology or trend dead once it hits the peak of hype as that can signal a time to jump to the next bandwagon or shiny new technology (or toy).

Others will see a technology as being dead when it is on the down slope of the hype curve towards the trough of disillusionment citing that as enough cause for being deceased.

Yet others will declare something dead while it matures working its way through the trough of disillusionment evolving from market adoption to customer deployment eventually onto the plateau of productivity (or profitability).

Then there are those who see something as being dead once it finally is retired from productive use, or profitable for sale.

Of course then there are those who just like to call anything new or other than what they like or that is outside of their comfort zone as being dead. In other words, if your focus or area of interest is tied to new products, technology trends and their promotion, rest assured you better be where the resources are being applied and view other things as being dead and thus probably not a fan of Zombie technologies (or at least publicly).

Zombie technologies and hype cycles

On the other hand, if your area of focus is on leveraging technologies and products in a productive way, including selling things that are profitable without a lot of marketing effort, your view of what is dead or not will be different. For example if you are risk averse letting someone else be on the leading bleeding edge (unless you have a dual redundant HA blood bank attached to your environment) your view of what is dead or not will be much different from those promoting the newest trend.

Funny thing about being declared dead, often it is not the technology, implementation, research and development or customer acquisitions, rather simply a lack of promotion, marketing and general awareness. Take tape for example which has been a multi decade member of the Zombie technology list. Recently vendors banded together investing or spending on marketing awareness reaching out to say tape is alive. Guess what, lo and behold, there was a flurry of tape activity in venues that normally might not be talking about tape. Funny how marketing resources can bring something back from the dead including Zombie technologies to become popular or cool to discuss again.

With the 2011 Halloween season among us, it is time to take a look this years list of Zombie technologies. Keep in mind that being named a Zombie technology is actually an honor in that it usually means someone wants to see it dead so that his or her preferred product or technology can take it place.

Here are 2011 Zombie technologies.

Backup: Far from being dead, its focus is changing and evolving with a broader emphasis on data protection. While many technologies associated with backup have been declared dead along with some backup software tools, the reality is that it is time or modernizes how backups and data protection are performed. Thus, backup is on the Zombie technology list and will live on, like it or not until it is exorcised from, your environment replaced with a modern resilient and flexible protected data infrastructure.

Big Data: While not declared dead yet, it will be soon by some creative marketer trying to come up with something new. On the other hand, there are those who have done big data analytics across different Zombie platforms for decades which of course is a badge of honor. As for some of the other newer or shiny technologies, they will have to wait to join the big data Zombies.

Cloud: Granted clouds are still on the hype cycle, some argue that it has reached its peak in terms of hype and now heading down into the trough of disillusionment, which of course some see as meaning dead. In my opinion cloud, hype has or is close to peaking, real work is occurring which means a gradual shift from industry adoption to customer deployment. Put a different way, clouds will be on the Zombie technology list of a couple of decades or more. Also, keep in mind that being on the Zombie technology list is an honor indicating shift towards adoption and less on promotion or awareness fan fare.

Data centers: With the advent of the cloud, data centers or habitats for technology have been declared dead, yet there is continued activity in expanding or building new ones all the time. Even the cloud relies on data centers for housing the physical resources including servers, storage, networks and other components that make up a Green and Virtual Data Center or Cloud environment. Needless to day, data centers will stay on the zombie list for some time.

Disk Drives: Hard disk drives (HDD) have been declared dead for many years and more recently due to popularity of SSDs have lost their sex appeal. Ironically, if tape is dead at the hands of HDDs, then how can HDDs be dead, unless of course they are on the Zombie technology list. What is happening is like tape, HDDs role are changing as the technology continues to evolve and will be around for another decade or so.

Fibre Channel (FC): This is a perennial favorite having been declared dead on a consistent basis over three decades now going back to the early 90s. While there are challengers as there have been in the past, FC is far from dead as a technology with 16 Gb (16GFC) now rolling out and a transition path for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). My take is that FC will be on the zombie list for several more years until finally retired.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE): This is a new entrant and one uniquely qualified for being declared dead as it is still in its infancy. Like its peer FC which was also declared dead a couple of decades ago, FCoE is just getting started and looks to be on the Zombie list for a couple of decades into the future.

Green IT: I have heard that Green IT is dead, after all, it was hyped before the cloud era which has been declared dead by some, yet there remains a Green gap or disconnect between messaging and issues thus missed opportunities. For a dead trend, SNIA recently released their Emerald program which consists of various metrics and measurements (remember, zombies like metrics to munch on) for gauging energy effectiveness for data storage. The hype cycle of Green IT and Green storage may be dead, however Green IT in the context of a shift in focus to increased productivity using the same or less energy is underway. Thus Green IT and Green storage are on the Zombie list.

iPhone: With the advent of Droid and other smart phones, I have heard iPhones declared dead, granted some older versions are. However while the Apple cofounder Steve Jobs has passed on (RIP), I suspect we will be seeing and hearing more about the iPhone for a few years more if not longer.

IBM Mainframe: When it comes to information technology (IT), the king of the Zombie list is the venerable IBM mainframe aka zSeries. The IBM mainframe has been declared dead for over 30 years if not longer and will be on the zombie list for another decade or so. After all, IBM keeps investing in the technology as people buy them not to mention IBM built a new factory to assemble them in.

NAS: Congratulations to Network Attached Storage (NAS) including Network File System (NFS) and Windows Common Internet File System (CIFS) aka Samba or SMB for making the Zombie technology list. This means of course that NAS in general is no longer considered an upstart or immature technology; rather it is being used and enhanced in many different directions.

PC: The personal computer was touted as killing off some of its Zombie technology list members including the IBM mainframe. With the advent of tablets, smart phones, virtual desktops infrastructures (VDI), the PC has been declared dead. My take is that while the IBM mainframe may eventually drop of the Zombie list in another decade or two if it finds something to do in retirement, the PC will be on the list for many years to come. Granted, the PC could live on even longer in the form of a virtual server where the majority of guest virtual machines (VMs) are in support of Windows based PC systems.

Printers: How long have we heard that printers are dead? The day that printers are dead is the day that the HP board of directors should really consider selling off that division.

RAID: Its been over twenty years since the first RAID white paper and early products appeared. Back in the 90s RAID was a popular buzzword and bandwagon topic however, people have moved on to new things. RAID has been on the Zombie technology list for several years now while it continues to find itself being deployed at the high end of the market down into consumer products. The technology continues to evolve in both hardware as well as software implementations on a local and distributed basis. Look for RAID to be on the Zombie list for at least the next couple of decades while it continues to evolve, after all, there is still room for RAID 7, RAID 8, RAID 9 not to mention moving into hexadecimal or double digit variants.

SAN: Storage Area Networks (SANs) have been declared dead and thus on the Zombie technology list before, and will be mentioned again well into the next decade. While the various technologies will continue to evolve, networking your servers to storage will also expand into different directions.

Tape: Magnetic tape has been on the Zombie technology list almost as long as the IBM mainframe and it is hard to predict which one will last longer. My opinion is that tape will outlast the IBM mainframe, as it will be needed to retrieve the instructions on how to de install those Zombie monsters. Tape has seen resurgence in vendors spending some marketing resources and to no surprise, there has been an increase in coverage about it being alive, even at Google. Rest assured, tape is very safe on the Zombie technology list for another decade or more.

Windows: Similar to the PC, Microsoft Windows has been touted in the past as causing other platforms to be dead, however has been added to the Zombie list for many years now. Given that Windows is the most commonly virtualized platform or guest VM, I think we will be hearing about Windows on the Zombie list for a few decades more. There are particular versions of Windows as with any technology that have gone into maintenance or sustainment mode or even discontinued.

Poll: What are the most popular Zombie technologies?

Keep in mind that a Zombie technology is one that is still in use, being developed or enhanced, sold usually at a profit and used typically in a productive way. In some cases, a declared dead or Zombie technology may only be just in its infancy getting started having either just climbed over the peak of hype or coming out of the trough of disillusionment. In other instance, the Zombie technology has been around for a long time yet continues to be used (or abused).

Note: Zombie voting rules apply which means vote early, vote often, and of course vote for those who cannot include those that are dead (real or virtual).

Ok, nuff said, enough fun, lets get back to work, at least for now

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

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  1. 6 Responses to “Trick or treat: 2011 IT Zombie technology poll”

  2. Congratulations on being a Zombie ZMarcel, you are in good company!

    By Greg Schulz on Nov 19, 2011

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