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Going Global: It's Not Optional Anymore

Before we begin our regularly scheduled discussion, a quick aside: I had expected Monday to be somewhat of a "snow day" for news in our industry, given the hide-and-seek events of the weekend. Not so. With only a mild burp in the markets after digesting the capture of Saddam Hussein, the computer and networking industries plunged full steam ahead into the last real work week of the year, with a couple breaking stories worth paying more attention to.

The "tap dance of the week" award goes to IBM, for its no-comment comment in response to the Wall Street Journal's report about IBM's plans to move several thousand high-paying programming jobs overseas, to India, China and Latin America. IBM's reply to the story is a study in corporate doublespeak. But its real message is something that savvy networking professionals already know: The networked world is going global, whether you like it or not. So you can either prepare for it, or crawl into a hole and hope for the best.

In IBM's defense, anything they say publicly is not going to help -- there's just no good way to say "we're moving high-paying jobs overseas because the programmers there are just as good, for less than half the price." The bottom line, is as usual, the bottom line. To satisfy its shareholders, IBM is obliged to reduce costs whenever it can, as long as it doesn't reduce quality.

Any enterprise with call-center operations already knows that the phones and the people don't need to be in the same building as the rest of the company. As networks grow more reliable and more powerful, why should engineering, programming, or -- dare we say -- network administration be any different? If you haven't already, now is the time to assess whether or not it matters to you whether your vendors or service providers have operations overseas, and whether or not your own company could benefit from the same.

Another item worth talking about: Well on its way to becoming the Cisco Systems of the storage universe, EMC bulked up on California software for the third time since July, this time acquiring virtual-machine vendor VMware for $635 million. As Terry Sweeney (who writes for our sister site, Storage Pipeline) has previously noted (see the Oct. 17 entry), it's all well and good to bundle features together, but it won't mean a thing unless it saves money or makes things easier for the customer. The next year should be an interesting one in the storage space, to see if EMC and others can make sense of their value-added acquisitions.