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Bill St. Arnaud is a R&E Network and Green IT consultant who works with clients on a variety of subjects such as the next generation research and education and Internet networks. He also works with clients to develop practical solutions to reduce GHG emissions such as free broadband and dynamiccharging of eVehicles (See . View my complete profile

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gartner's top 10 strategic technologies for 2008

[Some excerpts form Network World article -- BSA]

1. Green IT

This one is taking on a bigger role for many reasons, including an increased awareness of environmental danger; concern about power bills; regulatory requirements; government procurement rules; and a sense that corporations should embrace social responsibility.

But IT is still responsible for 2% of all carbon releases, and it’s coming from many sources. “Fast memory is getting to be a surprisingly high energy consuming item,” Claunch said.

2. Unified Communications (UC)

3. Business Process Management

BPM is more of a business discipline than a technology, but is necessary to make sure the technology of service-oriented architectures (SOA) deliver business value, Cearley said. It’s also important for dealing with laws like Sarbanes-Oxley that require business to define processes, he said.

“SOA and BPM have common objectives,” Cearley said. “They’re both focused on driving agility, driving business process improvement, flexibility and adaptability within the organization. SOA is a key mechanism that makes BPM easier.”

4. Metadata Management

Metadata is the foundation for information infrastructure and is found throughout your IT systems: in service registries and repositories, Web semantics, configuration management databases (CMDB), business service registries and in application development.

“Metadata is not just about information management,” Cearley said. “You need to look beyond that. Metadata is everywhere.”

5. Virtualization 2.0

“Virtualization 2.0” goes beyond consolidation. It simplifies the installation and movement of applications, makes it easy to move work from one machine to another, and allows changes to be made without impacting other IT systems, which tend to be rigid and interlinked, Claunch said.

There are also disaster recovery benefits, since the technology lets you restack virtual systems in different orders in recovery centers, providing more flexibility.

“Virtualization is a key enabling technology because it provides so many values,” Claunch said. “Frankly it’s the Swiss Army knife of our toolkit in IT today.”

6. Mashups & Composite Applications

Mashups, a Web technology that combines content from multiple sources, has gone from being a virtual unknown among IT executives to being an important piece of enterprise IT systems. “Only like 18 months ago, very few people (knew what a mashup was),” Cearley said. “It’s been an enormous evolution of the market.”

U.S. Army intelligence agents are using mashups for situational awareness by bringing intelligence applications together. Enterprises can use mashups to merge the capabilities of complementary applications, but don’t go too far.

“Examine the application backlog for potential relief via mashups,” the analysts stated in their slideshow. “Investigate power users’ needs but be realistic about their capabilities to use mashups.” Other stories on this topic

7. Web Platform & WOA

Web-oriented architecture, a version of SOA geared toward Web applications, is part of a trend in which the number of IT functions being delivered as a service is greatly expanding. Beyond the well-known software-as-a-service, Cearley said over time everything could be delivered as a service, including storage and other basic infrastructure needs.

“This really is a long-term model that we see evolving from a lot of different parts of the market,” Cearley said. It’s time for IT executives to put this on their radar screens and conduct some “what-if” scenarios to see what makes sense for them, he said.

9. Real World Web

Increasingly ubiquitous network access with reasonably useful bandwidth is enabling the beginnings of what analysts are calling the “real world Web,” Claunch said. The goal is to augment reality with universal access to information specific to locations, objects or people. This might allow a vacationer to snap a picture of a monument or tourist attraction and immediately receive information about the object, instead of flipping through a travel book.

10. Social Software

Social software like podcasts, videocasts, blogs, wikis, social bookmarks, and social networking tools, often referred to as Web 2.0, is changing the way people communicate both in social and business settings.

“It’s really been empowering people to interact in an electronic medium in a much richer fashion than we did with e-mail or corporate collaboration systems,” Cearley said.

The effectiveness of these tools for enterprise use varies, and some tools that have the potential to improve productivity aren’t yet mature enough for enterprise use, Gartner says. For example, wikis are highly valuable and mature enough for safe and effective enterprise use. Meanwhile, Gartner says prediction markets potentially have a lot of enterprise value but so far have low maturity. Podcasts, conversely, can be used safely and effectively but don’t have a lot of business value, the analyst firm said.