by January 8, 2010 0 comments



“Recession is over, and the light is clearly visible at the end of the
tunnel”

“The recession was like a blessing in disguise, because we managed to get the
best deals and discounts in our IT purchase”

“We learnt that IT contracts should be framed to give you sufficient
flexibility to scale your IT infrastructure upwards or downwards based on market
conditions”

The above are some learnings that CIOs of leading Indian enterprises shared
with us at the recently concluded PCQuest Infrastructure SummIT, our annual
event on IT infrastructure planning and management. Our theme this time was
technologies for business growth, wherein we identified the technologies that
are going to become important for CIOs now that the global economy is slowly
limping back to recovery. Most CIOs who attended the event clearly recognized
the changing economic environment and were keen to find out which technologies
would become relevant for them going forward. Our event was aimed at providing
the answers, and our story this time, is an extension of that to share the
knowledge gained during the event with all our readers. We’ll start off by
identifying the key trends and technologies that are going to take center stage,
followed by a drill down of specific technologies in the pages to follow.

Good bye traditional IT infrastructure
Any IT infrastructure comprises of four basic building blocks-client, data
center, the web, and the communication backbone. Two other elements are
essential besides these-security and managed services. These are not building
blocks, but crucial aids to the four building blocks. For instance, you can’t
afford to run any of the four building blocks without securing them. Likewise,
given the shrinking IT budgets, and the challenges of hiring and retaining
manpower to manage your IT infrastructure, CIOs often resort to managed
services. Today, you can outsource just about every part of your IT
infrastructure to a managed services provider.

What’s important is to realize that during the recession, significant
developments have happened across all these areas. These developments are so
significant that they are likely to change how you’ll manage your IT
infrastructure in the near future.

Disappearing PCs, mobile clients
There’s a paradigm shift happening in client side computing. It’s no longer
about managing a fleet of desktop PCs sitting within the four walls of your
office building. The future is clearly mobile, with most of the client side
computing happening on the move. It started with the exponential growth in
notebooks and cellphones. Now it’s about netbooks and smartphones. Moreover,
these devices are becoming more affordable for just about everyone in the
office. So what you now have to worry about is how to manage your growing mobile
workforce, supporting them no matter where they are, and securing the data
that’s on them. Some other technologies like SSDs (Solid State Drives) will
become cheaper and more widely available, making your laptop or netbooks even
lighter, better performing, and with greater battery backup.

Data centers
When one hears the word data center, only one word comes to mind-virtualization.
Clearly, virtualization technology has completely changed the way data centers
are designed and managed. It’s not just about server virtualization, which is
possibly where the paradigm shift started from. Today, you can virtualize just
about everything–storage, network, or even your applications. What’s important
is to understand what each type of virtualization does to choose the right one
for your business. We’ve covered server and storage virtualization extensively
in the past, and you can dig through our online archives to read about them.
Network virtualization can be internal or external. The latter is an old and
familiar concept, which is what traditional VLANs in network switches offer you.
The former, viz internal network virtualization is new, which stems from server
virtualization. Since you have multiple virtual machines running on a single
server, they don’t need the NIC to communicate with each other. They can bypass
it, thereby considerably increasing the speed of communication between different
virtualized applications.

Lastly, application virtualization can be of two types-streaming and desktop.
In the former, all your desktop applications reside in the data center instead
of being installed on individual machines, and are streamed to users. In the
latter, the entire desktop moves into the data center and is accessed by thin
clients. App virtualization can help control software piracy, and in managing
your desktop fleet.

All said and done, the benefits of virtualization remain the same-better
utilization of hardware, greater energy efficiency, and much better
manageability. A few technologies that are helping bring virtualization in data
centers are green IT, multi-core CPUs, and blade servers. These would allow
greater server density in lesser space. So clearly, these technolgies combined
with virtualization are likely to completely change how data centers would be
designed and managed in the near future.

The Web
No prizes for guessing the most important trend on the web-it’s cloud computing.
Instead of having your own IT infrastructure, you can have everything run from
the cloud remotely. This includes applications (SaaS), complete software
solutions (PaaS), or simply borrowing any amount of compute power to run your
own custom applications (IaaS). So whether you’re an enterprise looking to
reduce the cost of running enterprise apps, or a software developer who doesn’t
want to invest in licensing expensive development and testing platforms, or even
a service provider who doesn’t want to invest in expensive servers and compute
power, cloud computing has something for everyone. It’s like spare capacity just
waiting to be utilized.

Another trend that’s going to be significant next year is Rich Internet Apps,
also known as RIAs. These will allow organizations to make their web based apps
far more graphically rich and meaningful. So a manufacturer for instance could
provide 3D models of their products on the web, to allow their customers to get
their real look and feel.

Other trends worth watching out for include the HTML 5.0 and CSS3, both of
which will allow developers to create far more feature rich web sites than ever
before. Lastly, the web is in the process of transitioning itself from 2.0 to
3.0, something also known as the Semantic web. This will make the web far more
intelligent.

The Communications Backbone
If the web becomes more feature rich and graphically intensive, and clients
become more mobile, they would obviously require more bandwidth to stay
connected. The current 1x data cards for instance, will just not be able to
handle the load. That’s why 3G data cards, which were introduced this year, will
become far more popular next year. Plus, 3G on the mobile should also become a
reality by next year, but it may not get mass adoption until we see some
applications emerge for it. More enterprises are likely to go the unified
communication way next year, thanks to the umpteen different communication
channels existent in enterprises today that are difficult and costly to manage.
The stepping stone to UC will of course be VoIP. Video will play a more
significant role as more enterprises are likely to deploy more video
conferencing equipment next year to control travel budgets.

Security
With your users going mobile, and all your applications moving into the cloud,
data will no longer be confined to the four walls of the office. Information
security would therefore gain prime significance next year. How do you protect
all the data residing on notebooks, netbooks, mobiles and smartphones of your
users? As more transactions move online, it will become important to secure
them. Moreover, as your data moves into the cloud, how do you ensure that it
remains safe? In an information security survey conducted by PCQuest recently,
data loss prevention technologies were on top of the purchase list of most CIOs,
followed by hard disk encryption, USB port locking, security policy compliance,
and multi-factor authentication.

Besides information and logical security, physical security will also become
important, and intelligent IP Surveillance will become more popular.

In the pages to follow we talk about many of these technologies in more
detail.

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