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Data center technologies to be thankful for

These data center technologies to be thankful for may surprise you. Check out this installment of "Modern Infrastructure"’s Countdown for more.

It turns out that what today’s IT pros are thankful for isn’t so different from what the Pilgrims were thankful for: the basics of everyday life. They had turkeys and corn; we’ve got reliable technologies that ease the daily grind. Forget niche technologies—what makes life easier for IT managers today are commonly used, but constantly evolving, technologies. Here, in no particular order, are three technologies IT managers appreciate in this season of giving thanks.

1. The Internet. The top technology for CIO Louie Caschera? It’s the Internet. “Because of its maturity and our continued dependency on it, it has become a necessity in conducting our daily business and now our lives,” Caschera wrote in an email. His company, CareTech Solutions, provides 24/7 managed IT services to hospitals—and the Internet makes possible all of the key features of those services: Web-based clinical access, secure remote connections for support, FaceTime for calls and meetings, and device use and support. “We are just thankful that the public Internet infrastructure is mostly always available,” said Caschera.

And the Internet is a stable, but certainly not static, technology. “The Internet is also an innovator, giving us the ability to create and invent even more applications, services and supporting technologies,” said Caschera. “Think about it: If it didn’t exist or it broke, what would Google do? What would Apple do?”

2. LED lighting. For enterprise architect Lovell Hopper, LED technology is the winner. “People talk about memory and hard drives, but I couldn’t see the screen if it wasn’t LED-based,” said Hopper, of the California Emergency Management Agency. “LED has made a big impact on IT.”

And everyday data center diagnostics are hugely improved with LED technology, says Hopper. “I remember guys working on old electronics, where you didn’t know if an indicator was on or had burned out,” he said. Now, “you can put these itty-bitty bright lights on a motherboard and see where there’s an error or data flowing.” Those tiny, bright lights also make it easier for Hopper to poke around in the dark corners of his data center.

3. Social media. It’s clearly not just for personal use anymore. For Robert Stinnett, it makes his work life easier.

“I’m thankful for the social media stuff that’s out there now,” said Stinnett, data center automation engineer at Carfax. “Before, if you didn’t know some tech guru somewhere, you weren’t going to learn [new technology]. Now there’s YouTube.”

Of course, the trick to using social media is picking the right outlet for the right information, he said. “My tech stuff goes to Google+,” Stinnett said. “I put questions and scripts on there, and I’ve started using Google+ hangouts, too.”

Stinnett thinks that social media features will play an ever-bigger part in enterprises—such as Twitter alerts that companies post for customer service situations. “You’re going to see good uses for social media platforms that tie into business processes,” he said.

—Christine Cignoli

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