You may not know it, but Santa Claus and his elfin support staff command the largest enterprise IT operation in the world.
As detailed in a recent report by Gartner, Inc., Claus maintains a database of nearly 3 petabytes for global chimney locations alone. Even less well known is the fact* that Santa Claus and his "Christmas Company" (as it was originally known) is responsible for many of the innovations that today drive the IT industry.
Santa himself, with his long scruffy beard and generous belly, is obviously a Unix guy. An early adopter of the open-source philosophy, Santa contributed prolifically to the original GNU project, named after the Nordic creature originally used to pull his sleigh in the alpha version of Christmas. His best-known command-line tools such as dasher, dancer, donner, and vixen eventually replaced the actual reindeer by the same names, who now live comfortably in an animal sanctuary far north. Their Unix-based equivalents run as a cron job every December 24.
Santa initially launched Christmas 1.0 with eight reindeer -- also known as a byte of reindeer. Ultimately he had to add a ninth reindeer due to memory limitations, despite a young Bill Gates' childhood promise to Santa that 640KB would forever be enough.
Santa was "in the cloud" long before the rest of the IT world embraced the buzz. Papa Noel recognized centuries ago that distributing packets -- er, I mean packages -- from the cloud to globally distributed clients made his operation extraordinarily efficient and highly scalable to meet elastic demand.
Santa's "Christmas Eve" laid the groundwork for Amazon Prime long before Jeff Bezos had hair, or was even born. In fact, Santa's service is even better than Amazon Prime. Not only are worldwide deliveries made overnight, but customers -- also known as "children who have been nice" -- do not even have to pay a $79 yearly fee. In all fairness though, Santa is really falling behind on instant streaming video.
Santa's helpers are awkward-looking misfits with eccentric fashion sense who work long hours with impossible deadlines mostly in complete anonymity. In other words, Santa invented the IT department.
Santa established the concept of keeping his operation in perpetual beta far ahead of Google's 14,000 web services. This is because every December 26, you hope that next Christmas will be better and all the bugs will be worked out.
As much credit as Santa Claus deserves for innovating in enterprise IT, even he wasn't the first mover. Over 2,000 years ago, it was the Jewish people who made one of the earliest technological breakthroughs.
As described in the ancient Talmud, during the rebellion of the Maccabees, all of the tribe's important data was archived to a primitive form of solid state storage. But during the ensuing chaos, power was interrupted and the Maccabees feared that their data was lost forever. Miraculously though, their backup lasted for eight days -- enough time to replicate it off-site.
When we look back at how history was shaped by all of these events, one thing is clear about today's IT -- everything old really is new again. Happy holidays!