Today's Buzz Word: Adaptive Computing

It sounds good, but do you know what you are signing up for, exactly?

August 19, 2004

2 Min Read
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Welcome to today's buzz word: adaptive computing. It sounds good, you might say. In fact, it sounds so good that you might just want to run right out and sign up. "Yes, yes! I want to have computing that adapts to my every whim, my every (business) desire!" Whoa! Hold on there. Do you know what you are signing up for, exactly?

You probably have a good guess, but the trouble is the term seems rather broad and all-encompassing. It's a little hard to get a handle on, precisely because the opportunities in this realm are so huge. For example, Hewlett-Packard's "adaptive enterprise" concept is more than a year old, and yet the company is repeatedly explaining the idea.

Here's my best guess why the term is so elusive: Its definition just doesn't ring true with people. Let's stick with HP. Adaptive enterprise (computing) is a comprehensive hardware and software solution that will help companies meet changing business needs. Pretty easy to understand, right? It includes IT consolidation, virtualization, and business continuity. So why does HP's Web site read, "The HP Adaptive Enterprise vision leverages IT to not only support change but to embrace and assert change." Probably half the engineers, VARs and IT people I talk to would read that and go, "Yeah, right."

People do not "embrace" change. They accept it, ADAPT to it (imagine that), or even engineer it. Telling people they'll embrace something is like saying, "Try this, you'll love it." We love something after it has proven itself to us, not before. And do you know anyone who has "asserted" change successfully?

Semantics aside, the idea of adaptive computing is intriguing. The goal is to offer businesses significantly higher flexibility on the IT infrastructure side to ease the implementation and operation of business applications and to reduce operating costs. A number of products from Fujitsu, Intel, NEC and others are available to achieve this goal. For more, see, " Adaptive Computing: Will It Deliver Savings? object of adaptive computing is laudable. Clearly, it has the potential to make business more productive and less wasteful. But it will only become a true tool when the vendors can figure out how to effectively describe it.

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