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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gartner’s top 10 strategic technologies for 2008

Whether you incorporate these technologies or not, they’re not going away, the research firm says.  Gartner Inc. has put “Green IT” at the top of its list of 10 strategic technologies for next year, and the research firm says that if businesses don’t improve data center energy efficiency, the government may force them to do so.  But social networking technologies are also on the list, along with some further-off technological developments, such as server designs that use a resource-sharing approach called a computing fabric.

A strategic technology is something that may have an impact on a business.  And impact could mean driving an investment or posing a threat, said David Cearley, a Gartner analyst.  If your competitors adopt one of these technologies “does that put you at a competitive disadvantage?”

1. Green IT. This is a path that more and more companies are taking as a socially responsible strategy.  A green approach is multifaceted and can affect data center operations in a number of ways, such as moving workloads based on energy efficiency and using the most power-inefficient servers only at times of peak usage, said Carl Claunch, an analyst.  But data centers also face the threat of regulatory action to curb power usage.  “Some event somewhere, a popular movie, some shift in election politics, and suddenly you are forced to change dramatically and it comes with little warning,” he said.

2. Unified communications. This is a path that more and more companies are taking as a socially responsible strategy.  The move to unified communications systems is happening as the world shifts from analog to digital over IP networks.  Companies may make security videos part of this convergence, which may give businesses, for instance, new ways to analyze a retail outlet’s traffic patterns.

3. Business process management. A key trend is the evolution of the business process management suite, Cearley said.  This may include, model-driven development, content and document management, collaboration capabilities, system connectivity, business intelligence activity monitoring and management, rules and systems management.

4. Metadata management. This is becoming important as companies integrate data—for instance, customer and product data and warehouse data.

5. Virtualization. Virtualization technology is critical, but not just for consolidation; it also offers a way to mirror production systems for disaster recovery. 

6. Mashups

7. The Web platform.  This is the model for services in the future.

8. Computing fabric.  A server design that is still a work in progress, computing fabric involves treating memory, processors and I/O cards as a pooled resource instead of a fixed arrangement.  Blade servers allow you to do some of this pooling with I/O, Claunch said.

9. Real World Web.  Thanks to the Real World Web, users can have ready access to all kinds of information, including travel information or the location of a jar of pickles in a grocery store.

10. Social software. Social software includes podcasts, blogs and wikis—anything that fosters the development of social networks.
One IT manager at the session, Ted Stoddard, director of operations at Federal Signal Corp. in Oak Brook Ill., a company that makes security and safety products, said he suspects that many people, as he has, have already assembled their strategic plans for next year.

While some of the items on Gartner’s list, such as virtualization, are part of his plan, he hasn’t considered others, such as social networking technologies like blogs.  Those are probably worth looking at, Stoddard said, “but there are more important things to work on now.”

Posted on 10/09