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Editor's Note: A Time for Change at ServerWatch

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted April 16, 2012


By any yardstick, 13 years is a long time. Measured in Internet time, 13 years is multiple generations. Since 1999, I have been overseeing (and sometimes authoring) content on ServerWatch. I steered the site through multiple content changes and redesigns while watching the server industry transform. To say the server market has changed in the past 13 years would be an understatement. I followed new and exciting companies through their launch and, in some cases, ascendancy or acquisition by larger companies. I've also watched seemingly infallible companies falter and startups sputter and fall. In the IT world, no company is ever too big to fail.

Sun Microsystems, Novell and SCO were three of the big names when I came on board in 1999. The network may still be the computer, but today there's a strong chance the brains in that computer live in the cloud. IBM, Dell and HP are the Big 3 of the server hardware world, while VMware and Red Hat are forces to be reckoned with on the software side.

1999 was a heady time to join an Internet company, and working for an Internet publisher that followed the Internet only upped the ante. At the time, ServerWatch focused on the server software that powered the Internet. Think IRC, telnet, fax and FTP servers as well as web servers -- all software that few enterprises or individuals give thought to (and in some cases don't even use) today.

The first article I wrote was Apache Brings Open Source to XML. Today, the Apache project is a fragment of what it was in its glory days. And while it's doing some really cool stuff, Apache Web Server is still, well, a web server, and web servers are commodity software that no one thinks about, so long as they are working the way they should.

It's been a long time since Netcraft stats were awaited with baited breath because choosing a web server is no longer akin to choosing a religion. Nor is choosing an OS, although some industry iconoclasts might argue otherwise. Open source, once the province of geeks and hippies, is now established smart business sense. It is, in fact, so ubiquitous and rolled into so many products that even an enterprise that decries open source publicly is most likely using open source technology somewhere in its data center, whether in an approved manner or via a rogue IT app.

In terms of server hardware, the changes have been equally dramatic. Back in 1999, some readers turned to ServerWatch to learn how to turn their desktop computer into a server. ServerWatch catered to hobbyists looking to build servers in their basements or SMBs looking to build a back office on the cheap. Today, your typical smartphone has more power than some of those desktops, and organizations or individuals will opt for the cloud rather than building their own server. If an organization does decide to buy a server, it is far less expensive than the solutions of years ago and far more turnkey. In most cases, building your own is more expensive and less efficient -- unless you're a large enterprise with demanding computing needs that standard solutions cannot meet (e.g., Facebook).

And then there are numerous other server technologies that have sprung up in the ensuring years. Among them, virtualization, server blades, multicore and multithreaded processors, more efficient power and cooling techniques and cloud computing.

It's been an exciting ride, but I've decided it is time to move on -- although I'm not going very far. I am looking forward to moving on to another position at QuinStreet. I'll be joining our custom editorial team. For the next several months, however, I will continue to be responsible for the content on our storage sites, Enterprise Storage Forum and InfoStor.

Saying good-bye is never easy. Although I find this good-bye to be bittersweet, I am pleased to be leaving ServerWatch and the ServerWatch community in more than capable hands. During the next several weeks, Forrest Stroud will be coming on board as editor of ServerWatch. Forrest has more than 15 years of experience covering technology. He has been involved with a host of IT Business Edge (formerly Internet.com) sites, including Webopedia, SharkyExtreme, WinPlanet, Jumbo, Enterprise Storage Forum, ASPNews, Database Journal, CWSApps.com and, multiple generations ago, ServerWatch.

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