27 Sep 2011

The other trends in IT

The cloud is dominating technology news, and rightly so. But it’s not the only trend in the IT world. Other technologies and new paradigms are delivering benefits for business.

In the current economic climate, many of these trends are understandably geared towards cost savings – technologies that can have an impact the bottom line and that can do so quickly.

While most have both technological and economic appeal, in some cases it also pays to be wary.

Here are a few 2011 trends to be aware of:

Desktop virtualisation

With server virtualisation becoming entrenched, the focus is increasingly shifting toward the desktop.

The aim of desktop virtualisation is a simple one: to separate a user’s operating system, applications and data from their physical PC.

Desktop management, ‘hot desking’, new desktop provisioning, system maintenance and security, policy and compliance enforcement are all made easier.

The technology comes in different manifestations, from hosted virtual desktops (where virtual machines are served from a central location with desktop machines acting as clients), to remote virtual desktops (where client machines ‘check out’ images from a central server which are then refreshed periodically).

Hosted solutions do make your business more dependent on its network, but done right, the total cost of ownership for desktops is reduced. Long-term cost savings typically deliver ROIs of between 6 months to 2 years.

Mobility and wireless

In 2011, wireless and mobility solutions are consolidating their place in the standard business arsenal.

Businesses understand that information, and immediate access to it, delivers big productivity and efficiency improvements.

Competitive advantages are still there to be found, and in many ways mobility is still a developing space – video conferencing on tablets, improved bandwidth via 4G and better integration with unified communications solutions are all promising developments.

‘BYO’ computing

Smartphones and tablets in the hands of employees are also a key driver behind a trend which some are calling BYO computing – where employees bring their own computers, smart phones and tablets into a business.

Employees want to do this for a number of reasons: it allows them to work how they like, it makes it easier to take work home, and they get to use the latest play-things.

And for many businesses, the idea of savings costs by having employees provide their own equipment can be appealing.

They should be careful however, that short-term gains don’t lead to long-term pain.

While IT Managers are under pressure to open the gates, BYO computing will inevitably mean less control and increased security threats.

It can also endanger compliance with legal requirements, and make it easier for customer and business information to leak – essentially opening the door to everything that IT policies have tried to prevent.

Research analysts Gartner recently recommended a number of tactics to combat the dangers, including strict policy enforcement, ‘best effort’ support (where the IT services desk places time limits on putting BYO devices onto the network), and user education and training.

With 20 plus tablets released this year, it’s a trend that won’t be slowing down. Thankfully, solutions like VMware’s tool for partitioning smart phones are on the way, which may help to quell IT managers’ concerns.

Ben Leggo is Consulting Practice Manager, Brennan IT