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Top technology trends for 2011

January 17, 2011 • Opinion, Top Stories

Sean Wainer, country manager for Citrix Systems South Africa

The economy is slowly regaining consciousness, and organisations are getting to grips with a sluggish post recession environment. Although many still fear a double dip recession, others see increased market opportunities.

The unfamiliar economic environment is matched by a range of different, and in some cases reasonably unusual, responses. Many organisations are making the most of the challenges they are facing by embracing transformation, forcing through change on the basis of corporate restructuring or budgetary requirement.

Indeed having hoarded cash to tough out the recession, a lot of large enterprises are now under pressure from shareholders to invest in order to drive the business forward. In the absence of strong CIO leadership and strategy, the money could get misdirected into simply buying more PCs to tick the ‘invested in technology’ box without getting any genuine long-term benefit.

Whatever their own situation, every organisation is dealing with both its own environment and three broader business and IT trends.

Consumer devices will be the fastest growing corporate devices – BYO model
The huge growth of consumer technology, combined with a new generation of tech-savvy workers and an increasingly blurred distinction between work and personal life, has already seen an explosion of new consumer devices flooding into offices and that unstoppable trend will continue.

Smartphones, tablets and netbooks of different size, shape and origin coupled with users’ demands to run company software and services on personal devices will increasingly command IT managers’ attention.

2011 will see IT departments progressively accommodate user requests and centrally support all devices, regardless of brand and type, securely and with no additional IT support. As a result most users will be able to work from any device, accessing the majority of documents, programmes and services from any location, at any time – at no extra expense of the IT department.

Increasingly, organisations will adopt some sort of employee-owned device programme to proactively manage employee laptops, netbooks, iPad/tablets and smartphones. At Citrix we refer to this as ‘Bring Your Own’ (BYO).
While many will point out that the level of freedom and flexibility this gives employees will give organisations a competitive edge in hiring and retaining the highest quality talent, as the younger generation moves into the workforce demanding the ability to define their own computing experience, the more immediate benefit is quite different.

The greatest advantage of moving to a BYO model is that CIOs can finally free themselves from the losing battle of trying to own, secure and manage laptops for an increasingly mobile and independent workforce. The consumerisation wave has already swamped most companies, even those with a policy against it. Accepting consumerism and managing it proactively is the only real option open to the IT department.

In recognition of the trend, we will see all the largest hardware vendors increasingly building integrated desktop virtualisation systems into their hardware solutions, making it easy for users to acquire and implement the technology and host it with private or public cloud, with modular scalability.

Desktop virtualisation will change the game in security, continuity and business agility
According to Gartner, Inc., a worldwide survey conducted among IT decision makers from June through August 2010 in companies with 1,000 or more employees shows that desktop virtualisation is still among the top investment priorities for 2011. Throughout the following year, employees will increasingly be working on hosted desktops, be it through technologies supporting task-workers (server-side computing) or through technologies that support high-end user requirements, such as those demanded by highly mobile executives (client-side computing).

Desktop virtualisation allows IT departments to centralise applications and desktops, as well as manage and secure the devices, from a central location rather than needing to operate each device individually.

Throughout 2011, as desktop virtualisation is increasingly embraced by enterprises across EMEA, companies will discover the benefits the technology brings to their business. Mainly, it brings about greater security, simplifies regulatory compliance and enables seamless business continuity.

Hybrid clouds will dominate enterprise cloud computing adoption
With the adoption of cloud computing becoming more and more widespread, enterprises are now choosing from a growing number of applications and data centre resources offered as on-demand cloud services. However, connecting to those services often involves a range of security and incompatibility challenges, intensified by vendors trying to lock customers into their own proprietary cloud stacks.

According to Gartner, “hybrid cloud computing refers to the combination of external public cloud-computing services and dedicated IT resources in a coordinated fashion to assemble a particular solution.” Further, “hybrid cloud computing implies some degree of integration or coordination between the dedicated and public cloud environments at the data, process, management or security layers.”

To make the most of the cloud, IT managers need to bring a level of reality to the hybrid cloud model and give employees universally secure access from any location on any device, without worrying about what hypervisor services they are running, what network topologies are supported, or which vendor’s platform the cloud provider is using. Whether the workloads are deployed internally, in a hosted partner or in an external public cloud, the user experience must be a seamless extension of their own data centre.

During the coming year and those beyond, the use of hybrid clouds on an enterprise level will, however, gain ground and become the norm rather than only apply to a small number of companies’ IT strategies.

Like the consumerisation of enterprise IT, like desktop virtualisation, the hybrid cloud is an industry trend that will impact every business. Every CEO, every investor, is going to want to know what a company is doing in relation to the cloud. Regardless of the resulting decision, in 2011 the very least a company needs to demonstrate is that it has considered its options and put a plan in place, even is that plan is simply ‘wait and see.’

By Sean Wainer, country manager for Citrix Systems South Africa

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