What IT learned in 2007

Virtualization is king. The idea of running multiple instances of software on a single piece of hardware was the most-talked-about trend of the year. The hype was dispelled somewhat by security concerns, but every major IT player either has a strategy in place or a partnership to offer customers help. If you’re not already virtualizing, you will be by next year.

Software-as-a-service is just so-so. Most major application providers spent 2007 offering up their first SaaS-based offerings. Many customers, meanwhile, are still making the transition from client-based to Web-based work. SaaS has potential to grow and will continue to do so in 2008.

BI is an add-on. The purchases of Hyperion, Business Objects and Cognos show that business intelligence is important, but deeper integration with solution sets may be even more important to customers that want to limit the number of vendors they deal with. Next year will prove whether the BI buyouts continue to meet the unique needs of users.

Privacy is a joke. Scandals at TJX, CIBC and myriad other companies show that having a privacy policy does not mean customer information will be treated appropriately. Watchdogs and regulators aren’t keeping up and the only reason customer confidence hasn’t plummeted is because there isn’t a lot of evidence the thieves involved in cases like TJX have used the data for malicious purposes. Yet.

Middleware still has some growing up to do. Red Hat may have nabbed JBoss in order to be taken more seriously by large customers, but BEA’s ability to fend off Oracle shows there is some strength in this sector for independent firms. Integrating IT remains a major project that will continue to allow a range of point solutions as well as suites from companies such as IBM.

Apple is worth IT departments’ attention again. With the iPhone, the company created a consumer device that may well end up as an enterprise computing client. Its Leopard server OS got more attention than any of its predecessors. Its overall hardware sales have never been stronger. Apple may yet evolve from the vendor that influences big players to a bigger player itself.

Web 2.0 hasn’t proved itself. Blogs, wikis and social networking services like Facebook or virtual worlds like Second Life may help with marketing efforts, but they have yet to become a revenue-generating must-have for most enterprise businesses. It will probably take another year, at least, before IT departments figure out how much latitude they should give their users to experiment with these technologies, or whether they should be monitoring them more closely to see if they are using them anyway.

IT managers had to start thinking more about their fellow employees as more than employees. As consumer technology gets connected to the network, the study of user behaviour and the associated risk became much more complex. Now if users could just starting thinking of IT managers as real people, too. Maybe that’s something to hope for in 2008.

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