Maturing technologies to lead APAC ICT in 2010

Tech such as cloud computing set to mature and be deployed more robustly next year, during which all Asia-Pacific markets will observe IT growth, predicts IDC.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Existing technologies such as cloud computing are expected to mature, be implemented robustly by companies and become a key enabler for business processes in 2010, as the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in the region steps up its pace of growth.

According to IDC's annual outlook report and predictions of top IT trends expected in 2010, the ICT sector in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan (APEJ) next year is expected to reach US$184 billion to register a 7.7 percent growth over 2009. The research firm expects the growth to come largely from India and China, although all countries are expected to experience growth in varying degree.

"Whilst budgets are still tight, and the buying patterns may have changed irrevocably from what the ICT industry has been accustomed to, the fact remains that there is cautious optimism in the market with some interesting pockets of surprising growth," Simon Piff, head of IDC's Asia-Pacific predictions committee for 2010, said Friday in a statement.

As for technologies to look out for, IDC predicted that key enabling technologies for 2010 will not necessarily be new ones, but existing ones that have matured. The report cited, as an example, cloud computing--last year's focus area--to be a more "tactile reality" as service providers better grapple with the challenges of providing public clouds and organizations recognize the flexibility afforded by the technology.

Here are IDC's top 10 predictions:

1. The maturing cloud
In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, Piff said one of the biggest hurdles for companies adopting cloud computing technologies is "perception and reliability".

However, he believed that most large organizations are "coming over the hump" with regards to these hurdles, and are ready to make the leap to cloud services. As such, enterprise public cloud providers have to combine the "5 nines" uptime guarantee with robust business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, according to the report.

"Cloud service providers who can come out and say that they are able to provide reliable service, 5 nines of the time, would be able to gain significant market share in this arena," said Piff.

2. Better business analytics
The research firm also believes that business analytics will be a key technology to help CIOs manage cost, comply with regulations and grow the business using the data gathered as a strategic asset within the organization.

According to Piff, companies were surprised, in varying degree, by the impact the recession had on them. Now, in order to better anticipate changes, CIOs are increasing looking at real time business intelligence tools that would give them a better idea of the company's health.

"Updating the status once a month is not good enough anymore," said Piff.

3. Utilizing social media in enterprises
2010 is believed to be the year companies hits "critical mass" in terms of acceptance and adoption of social media, according to IDC's report.

To illustrate how enterprises can utilize social networking sites, Piff cited examples of how radio stations in Singapore already have Facebook accounts and these are "heavily sponsored" by companies such as Coca Cola. Financial institutions that are able to give real time updates to their clients will also gain competitive advantages, said Piff.

4. Converged fabric solutions for data centers
The prevailing economic conditions, IDC added, have fueled the hunger to pare cost in data center management. And in order to address legacy applications and reducing some of the IT sprawl that exists in many companies today, converged fabric solutions will be a trend to follow in 2010, it said in the report.

Maintenance, in particular, will be one of the most powerful motivators for the demand of converged fabric, IDC noted.

5. Evolving from SaaS to KaaS
As software-as-a-service (SaaS) continues to gain traction and acceptance, and with more people recognizing how this tool suits the business process outsourcing (BPO) market, IDC predicts that enterprise cloud providers will go one step further by including intellectual property (IP) components into SaaS offerings.

This evolution from SaaS to knowledge-as-a-service (KaaS), is expected to include highly localized information that would help companies be aware of the IP regulations and environment that they are operating in, said Piff.

6. Rise of smartphones in emerging economies
India and China continues to drive the overall mobile industry, and IDC expects the 2 countries to collectively hit over 295 million units in handset shipments in 2010.

The primary driver for smartphone adoption is the increasing sophistication of mobile users in these economies; shipments of these converged devices in China, for instance, are expected to grow from 7.5 percent of all shipments in 2008 to 13.5 percent in 2010, according to the report.

7. Dawn of the enterprise appliance
In 2009, storage and server vendors such as Oracle and Hewlett-Packard started to optimize their servers, and IDC predicts that in the coming year, it will only be a matter of time before hardware providers offer dedicated, pre-configured hardware and storage for specific applications and workloads.

These multitasking units, said Piff, will help reduce operational complexity and cost, while increasing efficiency as all tasks will be controlled centrally.

8. IT accountability across business units
According to Piff, there are increasingly more CFOs looking for technology that would give them a more "granular breakdown" of how IT is being utilized within an organization. And this is likely to increase in 2010.

"[The CFOs] would, for instance, want to know who is utilizing the date center in the company and why, and how an increase in IT spend would impact their overall business," he said.

The development of this technology will also be driven by customers, rather than manufacturers, noted Piff, who added that such a technology is still "three to five years off".

9. Building smart cities
2010 will be the year where multiple "intelligent" initiatives and tenders will take place in Asia, as governments and cities look to beat each other to securing foreign investment and technology participation in this region, IDC said.

A "holy trinity" consisting of government, ICT vendors and citizens working in sync will be key to pushing such initiatives in emerging countries, noted the report.

10. Machine-to-machine (M2M): The evolution to "device grids"
With over 600 million fixed line subscribers and over 1.5 billion mobile subscribers in APEJ, IDC is predicting that there will be over 20 billion M2M devices connected to the public and operator networks in the region by 2020.

This would allow countries looking to create smart cities, such as China and India, to utilize "device grids" to monitor the condition of the city more accurately and efficiently, said Piff.

"M2M can be used to create smart energy grids where the system would be better able to determine the flow of electricity to the area that needs it most," he noted, citing the example where, during the night, residential areas would need more electricity than in factories and industrial regions, and these M2M smart grids would be better able to channel the required energy to the correct location.

"Governments are likely to push forward with these initiatives, but the telcos would need to take the plunge too," said Piff.

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