Following is a list of the top five technologies which will have an impact on how businesses use IT in their operation in the next few years. This is based on a larger list from Gartner Research targeted towards large enterprises but we have picked out the items more relevant to small and medium enterprises. Why do they these matter to your business? They will help you maximise the effective use of IT while driving down costs associated with traditional IT models. Many are easy to setup and low cost to implement. If they work for global enterprises, they’ll work for you.

1. Virtualization

(Definition: Hardware based virtual machines allow the sharing of the physical computer resources between different virtual machines, each running its own operating system. Examples: Running Windows XP on an Apple Mac OS X computer, consolidating many different servers into a single server box.)

Server virtualization is already being used to consolodate multiple boxes into single servers. Storage virtualization offers simplified access by pooling systems and can save big money with storage deduplication. In terms of storage virtualization, deduplication could be a huge money saver because every enterprise has tons of duplicate versions of files clogging up their servers. Desktop virtualization allows users to have a portable personality across multiple systems, delivering a thick client experience with a thin client delivery model. The biggest factor that could drive desktop virtualization will be the advent of low-cost $300-$500 thin clients (nettops & netbooks) based on Intel Atom processors.

2. Cloud Computing

(Definition: Where applications and software services are provided from the internet versus LAN based servers or running locally on desktop/laptop computers. Examples: Google Docs, ZOHO.com, Microsoft Azure)

You need to be very careful about all of the hype, but you need to take it very seriously as well. Deduplication, remote & mobile accessibility, consistency in versions and lower maintenance costs are some of the advantages to cloud computing. It can allow IT to move a significant amount of money from capital expenditures to operating expenditures. Instead of tying up capital in unused infrastructure with cloud computing you only need to pay for what you use, when you use it.

3. Enterprise Mashups

(Definition: Mashups mix content from multiple sources by using feeds from application programming interfaces (APIs). Example: portals.)

Enterprises are now investigating taking mashups from cool Web hobby to enterprise-class systems to augment their models for delivering and managing applications. Portals allow a single sign on point with all required corporate applications accessed from a single point. The advantage comes from efficiency and manageability.

4. Unified Communications

(Definition: The integration of communication services such as voicemail, e-mail, SMS, fax, instant messaging (chat), presence information, IP telephony and video conferencing. Example: BlackBerry accessing applications such as a web browser, texting and email clients which can also be accessed from a desktop computer.)

Enterprises are realizing that they have multiple products and vendors performing the same communications functions, and that this redundancy creates additional expense, makes it more difficult for users to learn, and increases the complexity of integration. Some companies such as Cisco see the desk phone becoming a video and data device. Others see the desk phone going away and mobile phones (with both a business number and a personal number) becoming the sole voice device for most business users.

5. Green IT

(Definition: Green computing is the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently. Example: energy efficient equipment, recycling equipment and printing/document management.)

Many businesses are looking at energy efficiency or ‘green’ products simply for the practical advantages in energy savings. Some companies are emphasizing green activities as part of their social responsibility. Energy will be one of the pre-eminent public concerns of the next decade and energy conservation will be an important part of the discussion. IT departments need to act now to start measuring the energy consumption of IT infrastructure and looking for strategic opportunities to reduce it, before they are forced to act due to government intervention.

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