Top 10 strategic techs for 2009

Keep your head in the cloud...

Keep your head in the cloud...

Analyst house Gartner has tipped its top 10 strategic technologies and trends for next year, with virtualisation, cloud computing and social networking all making the grade.

The analysts believe all 10 technology trends have the potential to have a significant impact on businesses over the next three years. David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst, said companies should look at them as "opportunities" - and evaluate where each can add value to their business' services and offerings.

The 10 techs/trends are:

1 - Virtualisation
Not just server virtualisation but storage and client devices too. For instance, Gartner says virtualisation can significantly decrease the cost of holding information by eliminating duplicate copies of data on real storage devices.

2 - Cloud computing
The analyst says smaller companies especially can benefit from cloud computing because of built-in elasticity and scalability which can help them grow quickly while also reducing barriers to entry. Gartner also believes there are opportunities here for larger organisations, especially as certain IT functions become less customised.

3 - Servers - beyond blades
Servers are evolving in a way that will simplify the provisioning of capacity, according to the analyst, so organisations will be able to track an individual resource type - such as memory or processing power - and replace that as needed, rather than having to pay for all resources every time an upgrade is needed.

4 - Web-oriented architectures
Web-centric technologies and standards will continue to affect enterprise computing models, says Gartner - leading to greater use of service-oriented environments in the business over the next five years.

5 - Enterprise mash-ups
Quirky web mash-ups are inspiring businesses to investigate how mash-ups can be added to enterprise systems to help deliver and manage applications. The analyst says application architects and IT leaders should therefore look to further explore enterprise mash-ups.

6 - Specialised systems
Heterogeneous server systems are an emerging trend in high performance computing - to cope with the most demanding workloads - where previously a dedicated appliance may have been used. Gartner says it eventually expects this specialised system approach to filter down to the general-purpose computing market as well.

7 - Social software and social networking
The analyst says organisations should consider adding a social dimension to a conventional website or application - and, to avoid being left behind, should adopt a social platform sooner rather than later or risk seeming 'mute' while rivals get talking to communities and customers.

8 - Unified communications
Expect massive consolidation in the comms industry as apps shift to common off-the-shelf server and operating systems, says Gartner. This means formerly distinct markets and vendors will converge - so organisations must plan to take account of comms functions being replaced or converged and adjust their own admin teams accordingly.

9 - Business intelligence
BI was the top tech in Gartner's 2008 CIO survey and the analyst continues to back its potential for boosting and transforming business performance. It says such tools are particularly valuable in a difficult business environment like the current global credit crunch.

10 - Green IT
Companies should think about shifting to more efficient products and processes as environmental scrutiny increases, and cut energy use. Green regulation is on the rise and this especially has the potential to seriously limit how businesses build data centres so organisations should have alternative plans for capacity growth.