WindowsNetworking.com - Monthly Newsletter - September 2013
Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's new in Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview
The Incredible Shrinking Network
According to one scientific theory, in which the universe is shaped like a closed sphere, it expands and contracts. In the world of technology, expansion and contraction have been the order of things over the years.
Take the cell phone: I remember the first one I ever used. It consisted of a huge handset that fit on top of an even larger battery pack. The whole thing weighed several pounds and you carried it around in a bag with a shoulder strap. Over the years, cell phones got steadily smaller and lighter. In the early 2000s, I had a tiny flip phone that was only about an inch and a half wide and weighed practically nothing. But then something happened. Phones got smart, and started growing again. The first iPhone had a 3.5 inch screen. Today's "phablet" phones have reached 6 inches.
Our networks, too, have gone through the "expansion and contraction" cycle over the last few years. Most business networks started small. In the mainframe era, an organization had only one or two computers, with terminals in various places that could access them. Then PCs came along, but only workers doing certain specialized tasks had one on their desks. In the beginning, most were standalone systems, with data transferred between them via "sneakernet" (copying it to a removable disk and physically carrying it to another system).
Early networks of PCs were often peer-to-peer setups, but soon the advantages of centralized storage and management led to the proliferation of servers, and before you knew it, the "server room" had morphed into "the datacenter," with rack upon rack of servers, each doing its own special thing (email, web, database, file storage and other specialized duties).
With the IT department growing like some horror movie monster to take over more and more of the physical space in company facilities, something had to give. Enter the era of virtualization. Led by big players such as VMware, Microsoft and Citrix, the virtualization trend allowed companies to consolidate multiple servers onto fewer physical machines and reduce the physical footprints (along with hardware costs, utility bills and the ecological impact) of their datacenters.
Another way for companies to reduce the size of their networks is to "outsource" some of their IT services to off-premises facilities. From grid computing to ASP (application service provision) to SaaS (software as a service), the idea of workers using programs that were running on some faraway server and delivered over the Internet seemed like a good idea, but it took a while to catch on. Out of that, however, the cloud was born. Cloud computing goes a lot further, offering not just software but also platform and infrastructure as services (PaaS and IaaS).
Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud was probably the turning point. EC2 made it possible for companies to rent computer processing time "in the cloud" for running their applications, while remaining in control of those applications (coming full circle back to the days of the 1960s when computer timesharing was a commonplace computing model because most companies couldn't afford to own and house the huge institutional mainframe systems of that era.
When Google got into online services and Microsoft went "all in" with the cloud, there was much speculation and consternation among IT pros that the corporate datacenter would shrink to the point of disappearing altogether, and that the jobs of IT professionals would disappear with them. That doesn't seem to be happening. Although there have been some indications that employment in the tech sector is slowing down, in some areas (according to the Federal Reserve), demand for skilled tech professionals is much greater than the supply, with employers competing vigorously for high-end IT workers. The problem for some of those in the job market is that the nature of those jobs has evolved so that the skills learned a decade (or more) ago are now in many ways obsolete.
But there are still plenty of opportunities out there. Most companies are hanging onto their on-premises datacenters and combining them with cloud resources in a hybrid IT model. Far from getting smaller, the corporate network has actually expanded to flow over and into the cloud, opening up new possibilities for those who love to learn new things.
By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
Quote of the Month - In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy. – J. Paul Getty
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