At the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner analysts presented their insights into the top 10 technologies and trends to rule the world in 2009. With emphasis on virtualization, organizations should also pay close attention to cloud computing, green IT, Business Intelligence (BI) and social software -- among other strategic trends.

Defining “Strategic” According to Gartner

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.These technologies impact the organization's long-term plans, programs and initiatives. They may be strategic because they have matured to broad market use, or because they enable strategic advantage from early adoption.“Strategic technologies affect, run, grow and transform the business initiatives of an organization,” said David Cearley, vice president and analyst at Gartner. “Companies should look at these 10 opportunities and evaluate where these technologies can add value to their business services and solutions, as well as develop a process for detecting and evaluating the business value of new technologies as they enter the market.”

The Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009


Much of the current buzz is focused on server virtualization, but virtualization in storage and client devices is also moving rapidly. In addition, such virtualization trends as data deduplication can significantly decrease the cost of storage devices and media to hold information. Gartner notes that, despite ambitious deployment plans from many organizations, deployments of hosted virtual desktop capabilities will be adopted by fewer than 40% of target users by 2010.As TechCrunch mentioned, the Apple’s Intel-based computer platform is growing and businesses are using VMWare’s Fusion software, and its competitor Parallels Desktop, to boot Windows on Apple hardware. In the current economic slump, organizations can get more bang for the buck by implementing virtualization software rather than buying new servers. There are plenty of virtualization products on the market right now to help tight IT budgets: enterprise-grade products like VMWare Server and VMWare ESXi are just some of the options. At the same time, there’s also Microsoft’s Hyper-V -- VMWare’s big competitor with nice pricing models. Hyper V offers economic benefits through Windows Server 2008. Customers can consolidate multiple server roles as separate VMs running on a single physical machine, while also running multiple different operating systems -- Windows, Linux and others -- in parallel, on a single server leveraging the power of x64 computing.

Cloud Computing

With players like Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, IBM, HP and many others already in the cloud, cloud computing is another hot topic. As per Gartner, the key characteristics of cloud computing are:# SaaS capabilities# Delivery of services in a highly scalable and elastic fashion# Usage of Internet technologies and techniques to develop and deliver the services# Designing for delivery to external customersSome of the potential benefits of cloud computing include cost savings and the built-in elasticity. These features allow for lower barriers to entry and quick scalability and growth.

Beyond Blade Servers

Just like it was predicted earlier this year, green IT is much hyped about, and servers will continue to evolve in 2009 beyond the blade server stage that exists today. This evolution will simplify the provisioning of capacity to meet growing needs. It will also make it easier on the inventory of systems, eliminating the need to track and purchase various sizes and configurations. The result will be higher utilization because of lessened “waste” of resources that are in the wrong configuration, for example. New products from IT management vendor CA also support green IT initiatives.

Green IT

Going hand in hand with growing beyond blade servers, shifting to more efficient products can allow for a greener energy footprint. Multiple regulations are out there designed to govern companies in building data centers due to their impact on power grids and carbon emissions.

Web-Oriented Architectures

With the continuing emergence of Web-centric technologies and standards, Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach will enable its use “in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.”

Enterprise Mashups

Much in agreement with Forrester Research, Gartner believes that in 2009 enterprises may be taking mashups from Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0 levels “to augment their models for delivering and managing applications.”Through 2010, the enterprise mashups should experience significant development in a search for potential benefit they may offer to enterprises.

Specialized Systems

Heterogeneous systems seem to be an emerging trend in high-performance computing to address the requirements of the most demanding workloads. Gartner predicts that this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market. Heterogeneous systems are viewed as specialized systems with the same single-purpose imitations of appliances, but the heterogeneous system is a server system, into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function.

Social Software and Social Networking

Social software -- in all its shapes and forms of social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation -- is something organizations should consider along with mashups. Gartner thinks it’s better to adopt a social platform sooner, rather than later, because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage by coming too late to the party.

Unified Communications

According to Gartner, during the next five years the number of different communications vendors will be reduced by at least 50% due to the increased capability of application servers. Hence, there could be a massive consolidation in the communications industry. Organizations must build careful, detailed plans for all their communications functions’ replacement and convergence.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) has the potential to positively impact a company’s business performance, dramatically improving its ability to accomplish its mission by making smarter decisions at every level of the business, says Gartner. BI is particularly strategic due to its relation towards business managers and knowledge workers -- the main organizational thinkers and decision-makers. Providing them with appropriate BI tools will only make their jobs so much more effective and easier.

Predictions, Predictions, Predictions...

Every year, and sometimes several times a year, various researchers and analysts offer their scientific tea leaves’ readings. In reality, things may not necessarily pan out as predicted. It’s a wait-and-see game. In any case, it’s always good to read your horoscope every morning, as well as know what to expect in the technology industry come year 2009. We think they call it "strategic planning" in the enterprise world.