Most enterprise technologists should see a continued payoff of the hard work in planning, architecture, documentation, development and configuration work that has been occurring over the last several years. Enterprise technologists were building Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) long before SOA was over-hyped. And most enterprise technologists I know were investigating constructs of scalable, elastic Cloud Computing capabilities long before that became the dominate theme in trade journals, conferences, and tech blogging. With all the hard work and progress seen in enterprises to date we could be in store for some very positive improvements in 2010.
There are other mitigating factors to watch, however. Some that come immediately to mind are the steady pressures to reduce budgets and the constantly increasing security challenges. Mission requirements are also continuing to accelerate.
So what will the net assessment be by the end of 2010? There are many variables at play here, but in theory the greatest determinant of technological outcomes are the leaders of the IT enterprise. What you decide will have a great impact on how well your mission is served.
As an aid to your decision making, the CTOvision.com site tracks the megatrends we see sweeping across the IT landscape. The following is an update on six we believe to be of significant relevance to the enterprise Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). They are:
- Convergence and trends towards unified communications and user empowerment
- The continued dominance of American IT
- Increasing open development of software and hardware
- Cloud Computing and massive ingest/parsing of data
- Green IT and support to total mission effectiveness
- Increasing pace of technology improvement/development
Convergence and trends towards unified communications and user empowerment
Consumerization and its impact on IT development has been a trend for the last five years and it shows no sign of slowing. All IT around the globe is being impacted by this trend, and IT development is focusing increasingly on consumers vice government or enterprises. The good news here is that enterprise employees are increasingly becoming technology savvy power users that should be fast studies when it comes to learning the power of enterprise IT. The bad news is many enterprise users will have very high, frequently unrealistic expectations of what their enterprise IT will be able to provide for them, since enterprises have special security and regulatory (as well as budgetary) concerns that many home uses do not have. Another important impact of this trend is that most enterprise users are becoming very used to social media, which can enable enterprises to support mass collaboration on problems.
Consumers are also a big reason the IT industry is fielding increasing location-aware capabilities, and many of these will be of use in enterprise solutions (one I am currently watching closely is SenseNetworks).
Individual enterprise users are also the reason IT departments must focus on information discovery capabilities vice the old style information search tools. Users are demanding this and other productivity advancements.
The continued dominance of American IT
The fact that US stockholders own and US citizens run most all enterprise IT firms is something we should all be proud of. Our American way of education and competition has generated great firms that dominate, for now, the IT landscape (see the CTOvision.com Tech Titan List). For enterprises with special national security concerns this can be one factor that helps in assessments of threats to IT supply chain attacks. But also of importance, the leadership of these firms and their corporate headquarters are all very open to interactions from enterprise IT leaders from the federal government, and in every interaction I've ever had with them they are all very appreciative of the missions supported by federal IT leaders. The availability and proximity of these great firms is something our federal enterprise should take continued advantage of.
Increasing open development of software and hardware
All major IT firms, including the powerhouses that produce proprietary software and hardware, are now embracing the open source movement. Even Microsoft has an open source strategy that applies to some of their offerings. The open source community has long benefited from the developer talent in big companies that help produce and further code in Linux (see Red Hat for a supported variety), OpenOffice and many other open source solutions. We can all expect proprietary software will be the most full featured software (for many market reasons), but even that will be built in a way that works well with open source. The benefit to enterprises is a wider range of choices in solutions, and in many cases an ability to field solutions faster and with more security and lower cost. We can also expect all federal enterprises will find ways to enhance internal collaboration on software development projects, for example, the Forge.mil collaborative development capability.
Cloud Computing and massive ingest/parsing of data
After years of planning and hard work and design enterprise technologists have finally begun to see benefit from the concept of "private clouds," where the scalable, elastic access to resources leveraged by public clouds can now be used in more secure enterprise infrastructures. And the cloud computing trends in the IT sector have resulted in a great suite of interoperable capabilities ready to improve private cloud security, reliability and performance. Private clouds also strongly support continued requirements for large scale ingest and parsing of data to support enterprise missions, and they can do this in a way that makes disaster preparedness and recovery much easier to plan for.
Green IT and support to total mission effectiveness
The movement to Green IT first began as a way to do the right thing, with government and industry realizing the PC's and monitors being fielded should be built in more energy efficient ways. Perhaps the most visible activity in this area is Energy Star, a government-backed program designed to help businesses and individuals save energy. But many other activities have arose including an executive order requiring all federal IT efforts to support strict new Green IT rules. The cost of energy has also been a continual driver. As enterprises look for ways to save power they are also looking at travel budgets and the cost of sending people to distant meetings and this is placing more demand on capabilities that enable collaboration from a distance. Energy efficiency is also another driver of telecommuting, which will put pressure on IT departments to enable secure access to enterprise clouds from anyplace a worker is.
Increasing pace of technology improvement/development
The CTO's of federal enterprise are a busy bunch. Not only do they have to articulate standards and guidance for their enterprise, but they must continually track the many changes coming out of IT companies big and small. There is never enough time to do this, and all indications are that the speed of technology advancement will only increase. All enterprise technologists should consider the mechanisms they can put in place to learn of and evaluate technologies which may be of interest. My hope is that one of your resources in doing that is my blog at http://ctovision.com. This site tracks megatrends, including the six in this post. We also list firms big and small that are fielding capabilities which can dramatically enhance mission effectiveness, and do so in order to provide advanced warning for enterprise technologists who must maintain awareness of what is coming.
These trends are relevant to all, and an awareness of them should help your planning process. They call for an acceleration of green IT, virtualization systems, social media, collaboration tools and new user-focused devices into the enterprise. They also call for more direct dialog with users since many of these capabilities can transform their way of work. And they call for enterprise technologists from every agency to continue to scan the horizon to look for what's new. That need will likely never stop.