"You'll see a massive failure in a year," Bapat said at a dinner with reporters on Monday. "We are going to see a data center failure of that scale."
"That scale" referred to the problems caused by the worm created by Cornell grad student Robert Morris Jr. in 1988. His worm infected about 5 percent of the Unix boxes on the Internet, freaked people out, and helped jump-start the security industry.
In addition, Sun VP Subodh Bapat warned that 2008 will bring a data center failure of unprecedented scale, causing not only tremendous pains for users but also possible "national security issues." So, there's that to look forward to, as our data centers reach enormous proportions.
It's unclear what Bapat believes will cause the meltdown, but it appears to be related to the vast electricity requirements of today's utility-scale server farms. Bapat pointed to a new data center currently being built for a "national lab" that will suck up 50 megawatts of power, more "than a small city would consume." Bapat said that "utilities are going to become a real problem" for such megacenters.
I waited a few days to see how media and blogworld would react. Not much of a reaction at all. Wow, if salesforce.com goes down a few hours everyone's on it like white on rice, but no statements from IBM, HP, EDS, Accenture (or even Sun's outsourcing business)...
This muted reaction can be summed into one word: denial. For reasons arising deep in the psyche, ignoring painful truths seems inherent in the human condition. Unfortunately, denial is frequently a component of failed projects, and is one reason many fail so miserably. If project teams and management had greater ability to recognize warning signs in advance of trouble, more projects would succeed.
If you run an IT organization, your best defense against denial, which is the handmaiden of failure, is creating an environment where people feel it's safe to speak up and be heard. Allowing people to speak their mind is the first step; listening closely, with respect and interest, is the second. Follow steps one and two, and success will follow naturally as step three.