Conserving energy is an IT movement developing tremendous momentum as people realize the wasted heat loss in yesterday's products.
I like to go to Germany in the fall when people are celebrating Oktoberfest, but this year I thought it would be fun to go in the spring when the CeBIT trade show was being held in Hannover and be able to turn in the whole trip as a necessary travel expense.
My boss got wind of my idea and made it clear that he thought I would be much better off sticking to plan and going in the fall at my own expense.
Despite the hardship that this imposition may cause readers eager to learn what is hot this spring in Europe in the field of communications and technology, I have pieced together a few highlights from the show that should be of interest (the show ran from March 4 to March 9). With 5,845 exhibitors from 77 countries, however, I can't begin to scratch the surface, but I'll mention a few industry trends that I found interesting. It is, quite simply, the world's largest event geared to the high-tech sector, with more than 495,000 visitors this year. (See the TNT Tips 'n Techniques articles from March 7 and March 14 for a summary and sampling of specific product categories).
For starters, the show was broken into four basic solution areas: Business Solutions, Public Sector Solutions, Home and Mobile Solutions, and Technology and Infrastructure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were slated to headline the kick-off ceremony with a number of other leading high-tech executives.
Fifth Computing Revolution
Ballmer did in fact make it, though several other high-profile people sent representatives. He gave an interesting talk on the "fifth computing revolution" that he sees as being underway and characterized by increased processing power, significantly expanded storage, widespread wireless broadband networks, natural user interfaces, and a proliferation of high-definition screens.
Another notable speech at the opening ceremony was delivered by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. August-Wilhelm Scheer, president of the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications, and New Media (BITKOM). Scheer acknowledged an economy in Germany that sounded hauntingly similar to that in the U.S., with plant closings that are unhealthy and trade imbalances that are not sustainable. In his talk, he laid out a plan to revitalize the German economy through a series of measures designed to stimulate the creation of jobs by supporting and enhancing the information, communications, and technology sectors.
Among the themes at this year's show was the convergence of technologies as well as the "green IT" initiative to reduce energy use and slow global warming. How IT applications can contribute to protecting the climate is one aspect that companies are focusing on in addition to achieving energy efficiencies. CeBIT built a "Green IT Village" this year, where it concentrated green IT exhibits for the first time. Show sponsors also published a Green IT Guide reference of products and applications that support energy conservation.
CeBIT organizers reported they are now working closely with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) designed to bring together manufacturers, businesses, organizations, and consumers to sharply increase energy efficiency of computers and servers. The initiative is led by a number of large companies that do business internationally, including Dell, EDS, Google, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Pacific Gas & Electric, AMD, Delta Electronics, eBay, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Marvell Semiconductor, NEC, Sun, Supermicro, and the World Wildlife Fund, among others.
The CSCI has a goal to reduce global CO2 emissions from the operation of computers by 54 million tons per year within the next two years. Studies show that up to half the electricity consumed by the typical desktop PC is wasted in the form of heat. The CO2 that CSCI hopes to prevent from being released into the atmosphere is the equivalent of what would be produced by 11 million automobiles or between 10 and 20 coal-fired power plants.
Worldwide Shortage of IT Workers
Another trend emerging from the show includes a focus on the inadequate supply of qualified IT specialists worldwide. You may not have felt it in the job market, but that's apparently the way things are shaping up. Perhaps the emphasis is on the word qualified! Geez, so go back to school, OK? (Here's a better value: Buy a book from the MC Press Online Store.) There are various initiatives afoot to encourage young people to go into IT and ones to attract more women into the field, but it may be too little, too late.
In the German economy, anyway, there are about 43,000 open IT specialist positions. This includes about 18,000 unfilled jobs in the IT sector itself and an additional 25,000 positions for other branches of the economy.
While there is a perception that there are not very many high-tech jobs available in the U.S. anymore, that perception is likely inaccurate relative to the labor force available to fill existing positions.
As of September 2006, IT employment in the U.S. stood at 3.6 million, up more than 4 percent from the previous year. Between 2002 and 2012, an estimated 1.5 million new computer and IT jobs were expected to have been created (presumably, by 2008, we're more than halfway there). Meanwhile, the number of incoming undergraduates in the U.S. planning to major in computer science declined by 60 percent between 2000 and 2004.
At the same time, the number of adult workers between the ages of 25 and 40 actually declined by nearly 2 million workers since 2006. This happened at the same time as 77 million baby boomers became eligible for retirement. What is the anticipated result? It's a shortage of trained workers. Businesses won't have much luck if they're planning on hiring foreign-born and foreign-trained IT workers as they likely will not be available. Computer technology is growing rapidly in other countries, and those workers are needed to fill jobs at home. The result is likely to be intense competition for top talent.
At CeBIT, there was an active job fair going on under the auspices of the show's organizers, Deutsche Messe AG, along with Microsoft (founder of the IT Fitness Initiative) and Randstad Staffing, an international supplier of business services. Randstad advertised that it had 1,000 job openings in IT and related areas that it hoped to fill before the show was over and encouraged attendees to come prepared with their resumes. (The referenced IT Fitness Initiative was created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 2006 with the goal of preparing 4 million people in Germany to use PCs and the Internet by the year 2010. The plan is to use online testing and free training sessions to do it.)
So, Mobile Computing Is Hot?
You couldn't go to CeBIT without realizing the tremendous emphasis on mobile computing. Mobile computing is bursting out of its stall and becoming a very hot topic. Yahoo! announced a new bookmarking tool, Yahoo! onePlace, that will let people keep track of a variety of dynamic Web content all in one place on their cell phones. They can create Collections and Categories to group content and then "pulse" (stream) updates relevant to the content they select, such as airplane flight status changes. The tool includes a mobile RSS reader and builds on new mobile applications from Yahoo!, including Yahoo! OneConnect, Yahoo! Go 3.0, and Yahoo! OneSearch. OneConnect updates social networking messaging, and oneSearch brings together news, weather, photos, Web links, and other information based on search queries. Go 3.0 is Yahoo's new mobile home page. OnePlace and oneConnect will be released in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Google entered the business portal market with its new Google Sites service, a combination of Web hosting and its Web-based productivity applications. The offering is aimed at commercial and institutional users of Google Apps Web services. Users will have calendar, chat, an email client, presentations, and videos and images from other sources in one central location that is hosted on the Web rather than on a company's network.
IBM Products Receive Honors
IBM was honored at CeBIT by the iF International Forum Design for the following four products:
- System Storage N3300 is a modular disk storage system designed to provide primary and secondary storage for midsize enterprises. It has internal controller support for serial-attached SCSI or SATA drives, expandable I/O connectivity, and onboard remote management. The system provides up to 12 TB of internal storage and can be expanded to 68 TB.
- System Storage N3600 is designed to consolidate fragmented application-based storage. The system provides up to 20 TB of physical capacity in a 4U enclosure with a total expanded capacity of 104 TB.
- System Storage TN2240 Tape Drive is an entry-level system designed to address growing storage needs and shrinking backup windows. Using Linear Tape Open technology and a half-high form factor, the high-capacity TN2240 is capable of performing application managed encryption.
- IBM AnyPlace Kiosk is a compact, self-service touch-screen dual-video display. It's designed to span a variety of market segments, including retail, travel, financial, government, healthcare, and entertainment and supports numerous software applications, including advanced rich-media solutions.
Hopefully, this information gives readers a sense of the tenor of CeBIT and proves once again that reading is a much less expensive way to expand our horizons than travel. It may also prove, however, that travel is a lot more fun.