IT World Canada’s predictions for 2008

The senior editorial staff at IT World Canada was locked in a room with a crystal ball, and asked to prognosticate on the trends, issues and stories that will influence the IT scene in 2008. Here’s what we see for the next 12 months.

Big buys

Someone will make a play for Citrix, which could be an asset to so many players: Sun, with an open source stable, could use an open source hypervisor, though the strong Microsoft tie-in might discourage; HP, which could use a hypervisor and reason to boost ProCurve and services sales; Dell, which could put it to myriad uses on the enterprise and small office fronts; or IBM, because it can. But a recently announced tighter partnership with Redmond makes Microsoft look likeliest.

Dell will buy BladeLogic. As it tries to compete with HP and IBM in the data centre, Dell needs some systems management expertise, and after HP’s purchase of Opsware last year, BladeLogic seems like most natural target.

Research in Motion is a juicy plum – er, make that blackberry – that is ripe for the picking. Unable to partake of that forbidden fruit, the Apple, Microsoft would love to add these tasty berries to its basket. Alas, it will not be so. RIM will be plucked by Motorola. Hello Moto!

Web 2.0 finds its business case in the enterprise …

While employees in most enterprises are already involved in social networks such Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and so on, until now there have been hardly any enterprise applications that help them actively harness and use data on these sites to achieve business goals.

This year – either driven by user demand, or the need to gain a leg up on the competition – enterprise software vendors will start to weave Web 2.0 capabilities into new versions of their products, mapping these to the patterns of many enterprise functions.

What are your predictions?

Tell us what you think will affect the technology industry in 2008 in our Ahead of the Curve predictions blog.

New applications will be developed that enable employees – not just to locate and benefit from the documented knowledge within the organization – but to also identify “undocumented knowledge,” expertise and know-how residing on social networking sites.

For instance, entirely new types of sales forecasting applications will be created that constantly search for and retrieve information from the public Internet to help sales persons better identify and capitalize on new opportunities.

Not only will content on social networking sites be accessed and channeled to accomplish business goals, but this phenomenon will also occur via mobile devices. We will witness the growth of content providers for mobile social networks, such as Jumbuck. services – that let salespeople share leads and information – will also be offered on mobile devices. By the year end, these devices will become standard for such transactions.

Advances in broadband wireless technologies – such as WiMAX – will support the growth of enterprise mobile virtual communities.

… and in government

We can expect to see some movement on governments’ adoption of new interactive-style technologies such as those that power the Facebooks and MySpaces of the world. Despite discouraging signs like the Ontario government’s recent banning of Facebook and YouTube in the workplace, and despite minimal offering of such communication methods to citizens thus far, governments simply won’t have much choice in 2008 around whether they start adopting it or not.

With so many constituents — especially younger ones whose votes so many politicians are courting — getting on the Web 2.0 bandwagon in the last two years, the public sector will risk losing a key opportunity to interact with them if they don’t start to go with the flow.

So expect to see, even if they represent baby steps, more citizen-facing government Web pages that serve up the opportunity to open discussions and forums around key areas of interest. Health care, education and other perpetually hot-button issues should see the largest growth in this area.

IT security continues its snail’s-pace evolution

The evolution of IT security and its further comprehensive adoption by Canadian businesses and organization will undoubtedly advance at just about the same pace that it has for years – very slowly. There just aren’t a great many reasons to think otherwise. Most companies still struggle to understand their risk exposure and what they need to do in order to minimize that potential of breeches and malicious activity. It’s doubtful that an epiphany will happen in 2008.

IT security will also most likely continue along the same adoption path that it always has, driven mostly by a need for various vertical industry compliance measures and other forms of legislative directives. Most companies and organizations will react when they absolutely must, out of necessity and crisis after the fact rather than as a result of great foresight to prevent a disaster before it happens.

Most will remain confounded by how little or much IT security to impose, largely because they struggle with the concept of risk management and how to ascribe specific value to “what if something happened.” And they’ll mostly look for products and services with built-in IT security features and functions, and avoid whenever possible dealing with issues of IT security in a more direct fashion. Oh, and nobody wants to pay much extra for security, even though they’ll swear it’s really, really important.

More likely the greatest security pains in 2008 will come from the Web as enterprise business seeks to leverage the power of concepts such as virtualization and social networking, among other things. These are the things that increase risk and perhaps drive companies to be more proactive in mitigating these circumstances. An increasing emergence of threats from wireless mobile devices as these become the more common tools of business will further compound security challenges from Web and Internet sources.

What are your predictions?

Tell us what you think will affect the technology industry in 2008 in our Ahead of the Curve predictions blog.

Virtualization’s impact will stretch beyond the data centre

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