I was on a plane flying somewhere the other day and I happened to be seated next to someone who ran consumer sales for a large Multi-National Corporation. We had a great conversation about technology and discussed his specific focus on client computing. During the course of the conversation we talked about what computers we carried around, what we had at home and some of the exciting things happening in the mobile space. To keep a long story short we debated the best time to buy something. One of the dangers of being an Intel employee is you always know there is something great coming right around the corner. It can create paralysis when deciding to buy that next computer for my wife or that next mobile device for one of my two daughters. Buy today and Nehalem is coming tomorrow. Buy tomorrow and 32 nm products are coming soon after. When I apply this thinking to my position in the Server group I realize that system admins and IT professionals are making the same sorts of decisions everyday. The difference is their penalties for waiting are much more severe. They could lose profit, lose share or but their existence in jeopardy if they make the decision to wait and fall behind their competitors. Likewise, if they are on the leading edge with their technology purchases and can not extract value for that then they are exposing themselves in that they have wasted opportunity cost. Now if I decide to not buy my wife and my kids a new computer the consequences are severe but not quite visible on the bottom line of a balance sheet. I have also not seen the downside of buying them a new computer ahead of their normal replacement cycle. I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere but I don't have time to dig for it.
When we looked at this phenomenon in the Enterprise we wanted to minimize the risk of being a leading technology adopter. That meant trying to find a way that our customers could adopt server technology today and extend and blend the use of that technology in the future with their next generation hardware. One example of this would be what we have done for years with the Intel Architecture. The very nature of the instruction sets that we develop allow old and new software alike to run on next generation hardware. As enterprises evolve and virtualization grows in it’s adoption we developed another feature called FlexMigration that allows someone to start virtualization pools with today’s hardware and grow the size of the pool with the next generation hardware that we will be delivering soon. It is amazing the positive feedback we have received from a feature that in essence isn’t about a performance enhancement (Intel’s Moore's Law) but is rather about giving them better investment protection. Look for more of these types of advancements from Intel in the future because while we realize the need for absolute performance leadership in all segments, we also know that there are features just as important to an IT professional when it comes to the bottom line.