10 Trends for 2010: Piecing Together a Technology Strategy

As technology marches forward, IT and business executives face new opportunities and challenges. 2010 is no exception. Although a brutal economy and tight budgets have created new pressures, underlying business and technology trends remain in place—and some are picking up momentum. For example, the evolution of the Internet, Web 2.0, networking and mobility are changing the stakes and ushering in a new environment based on collaboration, communication and connectivity.

Following are the 10 most significant technology trends for next year, based on a survey of almost 1,200 technology and business managers, conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research.

1 Green Computing and Energy Efficiency

In only a few short years, green computing and energy-efficient IT has morphed from an appealing idea into an essential practice. Skyrocketing energy costs and tight budgets, coupled with growing public and government pressure, have forced companies to put this issue on the front burner. “We’re seeing enormous changes across the computing spectrum—from PC and server manufacturers to data center and building design,” observes Larry Fisher, research director for Next Gen Research, a division of ABI Research.

This trend will gain steam in 2010. An overwhelming 87 percent of Baseline survey respondents indicated that they are increasing or greatly increasing their spending for green IT systems. Better energy auditing tools, a more thorough understanding of carbon footprints, improved engineering and design, and a developing ecosystem for managing equipment from cradle to grave all make green computing more feasible.

In addition, organizations are adopting new and improved tools for managing computers and ensuring that they’re in sleep mode when they’re not in use. Many organizations are also getting serious about training employees to switch systems off when they’re not needed.

Fisher adds that manufacturers are beginning to place data about energy usage on their products, and companies are accelerating refresh cycles to take advantage of technology advances and energy savings.

Sharon Nunes, vice president of Big Green Innovations in IBM Systems & Technology Group, which provides consulting services, says that an effort is under way to standardize assessment methodologies and develop consistent guidelines. No less important is a growing emphasis on recycling and waste disposal. “Organizations are taking a more holistic view and understanding that green IT makes business sense,” she says.

2 Public and Private Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has taken the business world by storm. Two-thirds of Baseline survey respondents plan to expand the use of public clouds, which reside on the Internet, provide access to shared computing resources and are operated by third-party providers. Sixty-four percent said they’re interested in private clouds, which, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, are “owned or leased by a single organization and operated solely for that organization.”

Tech research firm IDC expects spending on IT cloud services to grow almost threefold, reaching $42 billion by 2012. “We’re finally seeing a level of standardization that makes cloud computing entirely viable,” says Mark Lobel, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services.

A growing number of organizations are turning to clouds to manage various applications, including basic word processing and spreadsheets through Google, CRM tools, ERP and databases. Indeed, most major enterprise application vendors have adapted their applications to run in the cloud—or they are planning to do so.

Organizations are also turning to clouds to keep mobile data in sync. Apple, Research in Motion and other vendors have simplified syncing contacts, e-mails, notes and calendar items across multiple devices.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allows organizations to access resizable virtualized compute capacity across multiple operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Solaris. Microsoft recently introduced Windows Azure, a platform that lets developers create new Microsoft-compatible tools and applications in a cloud-based environment. And Unisys announced the Secure Private Cloud Solution, which optimizes storage virtualization and provides enhancements for internal data centers and business continuity.

Chuck Mills, director of IT at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, a Baltimore-based not-for-profit organization providing services to the poor at 13 offices across the state, says that the bureau benefits from a private cloud that allows the organization to “create resource pools across the WAN.” This approach has helped the bureau trim its servers from 24 to 12, while also boosting availability and improving disaster recovery.

“Public and private clouds aren’t for every organization and every situation,” concludes PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Lobel, “but they will play a key role in IT.”

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