Why I’m excited about next week

The countdown is on. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in just a few days and we’re anticipating a great show. I’m really excited about this year’s Interop Las Vegas. Here’s why:

On the widest scale, it’s a great time for business technology. There’s tremendous innovation ” virtualization, mobility, software-as-a-service, to name just a few emerging categories. Significantly, while we’re still at the beginning of the road for each of these technologies, they can all be employed today by organization to change the way they operate. These are not technologies in search of problems to solve, as we’ve seen in past development cycles. What you see is what you can use. In fact, I’m having a hard time coming up with anything today that is solely vendor driven and amounts to no more than a distraction for buyers. Sure there are technologies that can’t seem to get “done” ” NAC and 802.11n come to mind. But both are real and already producing benefits for many organizations.

At Interop we’ve been talking for several years about the impact of consumer technology on IT. This might have been a bit of stretch when referring to iPods and MySpace and the need for IT to respond to a new generation of users who have tremendous passion for technology and the ability to create and share information on their own terms. But in a blink, the iPhone and Facebook have landed right in the middle of most organizations forcing to the surface the debate on how these and other consumer-driven technologies will be digested. And significantly, it’s a debate that includes users. Users can’t be ignored. They have power: They can pick up take their data and put it on Google Apps and move their conversations to wikis and other social networking tools. Empowered users are challenging. But IT professionals that embrace this passion will find more success, and ultimately, more satisfaction in their own work.

The third reason I’m bullish about the state of business technology is that we’re plunging into a new cycle of innovation fueled by the rapid proliferation of services-based solutions. Software, Platform- and Hardware as-a-service is the next great thing. They’re great not only because of the new choices services give IT departments, but because they are so controversial. The build vs. buy debate always draws a big, passionate crowd. And in this case, it also bring out new players ” Google, Amazon and Salesforce.com ” for example, who are eager to court business technology professionals.

The Green agenda is another reason why IT is exciting today. IT pros can be leaders in the sustainability movement by adopting energy-saving products and strategies. It’s not that hard to act Green. It can be as simple as being sure laptops and PCs power down when not in use. Going Green doesn’t cost a lot and there can be real benefits in terms of energy savings (though we need better tools to calculate this). It’s pretty “cool,” too, that one of the biggest trends in IT ” virtualization ” helps to shut down servers.

If all this feels a bit too optimistic, you can fret about the economy. But the fact is that IT pros are experts at doing more with less, and belt-tightening is a way of life. And given all the changes I’ve described above, businesses can ill afford to sharply cut back on technology investments. And unlike the last economic downturn when technology got a black eye for helping to fuel the dotcom bubble, this time around I think we’re going to see that technology innovation is one of the things that helps get the economy going again.

So what makes you excited about business technology today?