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Sanity check: 10 trends that will transform IT over the next five years

Among all of the predictions that its technology analysts make, Gartner has pinpointed 10 current trends that IT executives "can exploit ... for their competitive advantage." TechRepublic's Jason Hiner provides a sanity check on this list.

Gartner pours out a lot of opinions and predictions. While I regularly disagree with many of those opinions, I believe that Gartner is one of the best analyst firms in the business at organizing and clearly articulating its views. A recent example of that is Gartner's list of its top 10 IT predictions for the next three to five years.

Gartner released the list on January 31, and it stated, "The full impact of these trends may not appear this year, but executives need to act now so that they can exploit the trends for their competitive advantage."

The list was compiled from over 100 predictions that Gartner made over the past year and then narrowed down and summarized into this list of 10 trends for IT departments to watch. Here's a quick summary of the 10 along with my take on each one.

Note: This post is also available as a PDF download.

1. Mac will double its market share

Gartner says: "By 2011, Apple will double its U.S. and Western Europe unit market share in computers. Apple's gains in computer market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success. Apple is challenging its competitors with software integration that provides ease of use and flexibility; continuous and more frequent innovation in hardware and software; and an ecosystem that focuses on interoperability across multiple devices (such as iPod and iMac cross-selling)." My take: For Mac, doubling its market share would still not put it anywhere near equal footing with Windows. However, Mac sales finished strongly in 2007 to up its market share to 7.3%, so doubling its share to 15% would certainly make it more viable than ever as a Windows alternative and niche OS. I recently heard about a large U.S. company that has increased the number of Macs on its network from about 200 to 2,000 in the last couple years.

I've also seen a lot of the IT pros that I know become much more open to deploying Macs, and several of these IT pros have even adopted Macs as their primary machines because of its versatility to run Mac apps and Windows apps (with Bootcamp, Parallels, or VMware Fusion) and even handle some Linux/UNIX apps using the BSD underpinnings of OS X. So all of that is a long way of saying that I can get on board with Gartner's aggressive prediction for Mac growth.

2. Half of business travelers won't take their laptops

Gartner says: "By 2012, 50 per cent of traveling workers will leave their notebooks at home in favour of other devices. Even though notebooks continue to shrink in size and weight, traveling workers lament the weight and inconvenience of carrying them on their trips. Vendors are developing solutions to address these concerns: new classes of Internet-centric pocketable devices at the sub-$400 level; and server and Web-based applications that can be accessed from anywhere. There is also a new class of applications: portable personality that encapsulates a user's preferred work environment, enabling the user to recreate that environment across multiple locations or systems." My take: This prediction may seem a little radical -- especially since I don't actually know any business travelers or IT professionals who currently travel without their laptops -- but I think Gartner is ultimately on the right track here. Last month, I wrote about the three gadgets that helped me survive CES 2008, and one of them was the OQO, an Ultra Mobile PC that I used for note taking and quick Web access. I can see the potential of this device to replace a laptop, especially if there were wireless docking stations for these types of devices in hotels and public kiosks. However, an even greater factor for making this prediction pan out is the portability of applications and user data across devices, operating systems, and screen sizes.

3. Open source will penetrate 80% of enterprise software

Gartner says: "By 2012, 80 per cent of all commercial software will include elements of open source technology. Many open source technologies are mature, stable, and well supported. They provide significant opportunities for vendors and users to lower their total cost of ownership and increase returns on investment. Ignoring this will put companies at a serious competitive disadvantage. Embedded open-source strategies will become the minimal level of investment that most large software vendors will find necessary to maintain competitive advantages during the next five years." My take: I'm puzzled about what Gartner is trying to say here. Are they saying open-source components and code snippets will eke their way into the development of major software applications? If so, I'd say, "So what?" That's been happening for years and will continue. It's not really an issue of some companies jumping on that bandwagon and others consciously avoiding it, so I don't think there are any opportunities for competitive advantage here.

4. A third of all software purchased will be by subscription

Gartner says: "By 2012, at least one-third of business application software spending will be as service subscription instead of as product license. With software as service (SaaS), the user organization pays for software services in proportion to use. This is fundamentally different from the fixed-price perpetual license of the traditional on-premises technology. Endorsed and promoted by all leading business applications vendors (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft) and many Web technology leaders (Google, Amazon), the SaaS model of deployment and distribution of software services will enjoy steady growth in mainstream use during the next five years." My take: To be honest, 33% maybe actually be a little low, at least for new sales on the enterprise side. I think more and more vendors are going to want to deliver software via subscription contracts that guarantee recurring revenue, while businesses want to minimize handing out big chunks of cash for upgrades. Those two forces are simultaneously moving the two sides toward the subscription model for financial reasons. In terms of technology, SaaS delivers the portability of apps across multiple platforms, and the demand for that will certainly intensify over the next five years.

5. Many new businesses will buy IT infrastructure as a service

Gartner says: "By 2011, early technology adopters will forgo capital expenditures and instead purchase 40 per cent of their IT infrastructure as a service. Increased high-speed bandwidth makes it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites and still receive the same response times. Enterprises believe that as service oriented architecture (SOA) becomes common, "cloud computing" will take off, thus untying applications from specific infrastructure. This trend to accepting commodity infrastructure could end the traditional "lock-in" with a single supplier and lower the costs of switching suppliers. It means that IT buyers should strengthen their purchasing and sourcing departments to evaluate offerings. They will have to develop and use new criteria for evaluation and selection and phase out traditional criteria." My take: I like to call this phenomenon "Datacenter-as-a-Service" (DaaS) and I strongly believe that we are in the midst of a major shift to this model. Big service companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Verizon Business already allow you to essentially outsource your datacenter to them. With scale, these companies can provide a level of redundancy and management that are unattainable for small and medium businesses to do on their own at the same price. For large companies, they can offer the opportunity to outsource (locally) a service that is not a core competency.

6. Power efficiency will become a key criteria in IT purchases

Gartner says: "By 2009, more than one third of IT organizations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria for IT-related goods. Initially, the motivation will come from the wish to contain costs. Enterprise data centers are struggling to keep pace with the increasing power requirements of their infrastructures. And there is substantial potential to improve the environmental footprint, throughout the life cycle, of all IT products and services without any significant trade-offs in price or performance. In future, IT organizations will shift their focus from the power efficiency of products to asking service providers about their measures to improve energy efficiency." My take: It's becoming very expensive to waste power and even to simply not be as power-efficient as you possibly can. There's also a growing stigma -- especially on the U.S. West Coast -- against being a power-waster. Over the next several years, I fully expect IT departments to do their due diligence to unearth best practices in managing a power-efficient datacenter and to use that information when purchasing future products.

7. CO2 footprint will become part of PC purchasing criteria

Gartner says: "By 2010, 75 per cent of organizations will use full life cycle energy and CO2 footprint as mandatory PC hardware buying criteria. Most technology providers have little or no knowledge of the full life cycle energy and CO2 footprint of their products. Some technology providers have started the process of life cycle assessments, or at least were asking key suppliers about carbon and energy use in 2007 and will continue in 2008. Most others using such information to differentiate their products will start in 2009 and by 2010 enterprises will be able to start using the information as a basis for purchasing decisions. Most others will stat some level of more detailed life cycle assessment in 2008." My take: In the spectrum of Green IT issues, CO2 footprint is not nearly as easy to measure and define or to equate with business benefits the way you can with power savings. Thus, I don't think CO2 will have a major impact on IT purchasing until governments set standards and pass laws to make it an issue.

8. Green sourcing will drive vendors to provide green credentials

Gartner says: "By 2011, suppliers to large global enterprises will need to prove their green credentials via an audited process to retain preferred supplier status. Those organizations with strong brands are helping to forge the first wave of green sourcing policies and initiatives. These policies go well beyond minimizing direct carbon emissions or requiring suppliers to comply with local environmental regulations. For example, Timberland has launched a "Green Index" environmental rating for its shoes and boots. Home Depot is working on evaluation and audit criteria for assessing supplier submissions for its new EcoOptions product line." My take: There's no doubt that "green sourcing" is going to become big business over the next few years, and vendors are going to compete with each other to market their "green-ness." As such, it's going to be important to have some common criteria in order to adequately judge how "green" a product or supplier really is.

9. End user preferences will drive half of all IT purchases

Gartner says: "By 2010, end-user preferences will decide as much as half of all software, hardware, and services acquisitions made by IT. The rise of the Internet and the ubiquity of the browser interface have made computing approachable, and individuals are now making decisions about technology for personal and business use. Because of this, IT organizations are addressing user concerns through planning for a global class of computing that incorporates user decisions in risk analysis and innovation of business strategy." My take: This trend has its roots in the long-running tug-of-war between business users and IT professionals. I wrote about this phenomenon in "Sanity check: Did The Wall Street Journal sabotage businesses by publishing tips on how to circumvent IT?" The bigger issue is the fact that many consumers are now bringing technology into the workplace to help them do their jobs, and they are managing the process themselves instead of going through the IT department, because IT is traditionally very inflexible and not very service-oriented.

10. 3D printers will grow 100-fold

Gartner says: "Through 2011, the number of 3D printers in homes and businesses will grow 100-fold over 2006 levels. The technology lets users send a file of a 3D design to a printer-like device that will carve the design out of a block of resin. A manufacturer can make scale models of new product designs without the expense of model makers. Or consumers can have models of the avatars they use online. Ultimately, manufacturers can consider making some components on demand without having an inventory of replacement parts. Printers priced less than $10,000 have been announced for 2008, opening up the personal and hobbyist markets." My take: Where did this one come from? And what does it have to do with business technology? I'm puzzled as to why Gartner put 3D printers on this list. The idea here is pretty cool, but with the digital distribution of information, there is minimal demand for printers.

Which of these trends ring true from your experience? What other trends are you seeing that aren't included on this list? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

73 comments
kevin kasch
kevin kasch

Senior management and even some senior IT Managers are unaware that their organisations are presently using, and even dependent on open software; so no reason to be 'puzzled', it had to be put up in lights for the upper echelons.

mauriciodossantos
mauriciodossantos

The laptop big problem is the lack of a power supply standard. I dream i can plug my laptop in a 12V standard socket in any place, without power-supply.

turdboy
turdboy

i like to make a boom boom on the rug

turdboy
turdboy

i like to poop on laptops

turdboy
turdboy

i think that poop stinks

goestn
goestn

"... and an ecosystem that focuses on interoperability across multiple devices (such as iPod and iMac cross-selling).”" WHAT THE HELL DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH ECOLOGY!? CHECK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT AN ECOSYSTEM IS! WHY IS ECOLOGY ABUSED THIS WAY???

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Will rise and stabilize between 1/3rd and 1/2 total market. They won't go higher because the risk to businesses of another debacle like the Microsoft WGA shutdown, or the Pakistan-You Tube block would kill many companies. Besides, the Kaisan principle leans on a company having MORE control over cradle to grave processes that are critical success factors. Farming out data and I.S. functions greatly increases risk of failure due to reasons totally beyond their control.

cmr_exec
cmr_exec

Trend No. 10: My dentist already makes caps in-house using a 3-D printer.

CG IT
CG IT

SaaS [Software as a Service] or DCaaS [Data Center as a Service] has been around for quite a while in the retail business area. NOCs [Network Operation Centers] typically handle retail store POS systems which includes pushing out price list changes to POS stations, talling daily sales, etc. All this is done as a service. While quite convinent for retail stores that have POS units there the clerks only push a few buttons and the backoffice doesn't do much but print out reports, for companies that have their own accounting, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, departments, all using different programs and all requiring different uses for the desktops, the SaaS and DCaaS or even NOaaS [Network Operations as a Service] is something I don't think companies want to outsource but have to because of affordability. . Today, companies can't employ plain old IT people to run their network. They need specialists, all of whom want high salaries to do the job. Companies can't afford to hire all the specialists it needs to administer and maintain their network so they look to an outside solution such as NOCs, SaaS, and DCaaS. I think that many companies will look to these solutions as reducing their IT costs, but eventually will end up bringing IT back in house, simply for the control factor. There's to much data that users want to control themselves and that companies don't want anyone to get at and NOCs, SaaS and DCaaS all are targets for the Internet criminals. Imagine an industiral thief gaining access to a NOC, SaaS, DCaaS provider that handles hundreds of companies vital business information. It's happend already to many larger retail organizations that outsource their network operations only to have hackers steal hundreds of thousands of credit card and customer personal information. If the Internet goes down, like it did recently in the middle east, companies would be crippled in doing business when all their software they use is Internet based and not available.

dacoola01
dacoola01

Its just to bad that in all the green sourcing and co2 emissions that not 1 entity will stand for whats really killing the worlds environment. Who has the power to remove CHLORINE from production? It is the only element on earth that destroys the ozone layer allowing for the destruction of the 1st part of the foodchain which is the main devourer of CO2. (phyloplankton). Ask Hitler why he discovered CHLORINE and then you will know what CHLORINE is doing to this world. It will kill everything by killing the 1st part of the foodchain. Decreasing CO2 emissions just prolongs the process until it cannot be reversed. The most important tradeable commodity in the world today is not oil. It is CHLORINE.

paymankhoda
paymankhoda

"If things continue as they are..." is the sentence that should begin this and any Gartner study. These guys are experts at telling you what already happened and getting on a bandwagon that left the camp years ago. What the heck are they saying here that isn't completely obvious by simply observing what's happened over the past five years? What's really telling for me is that they are unable to point to anything new, anything innovative that's going to radically change any one of their "predictions." The earlier comments about "missing the impact of virtualization" are dead on. What's really pathetic about the state of technology is that it has become so predictable. That 3D printer they use to try to seem to be cutting edge was first shown at Siggraph in 1997 and became mainstream when the kid on Jurassic Park III used it to make a raptor vocal bone! For God's sake, when will people in technology show these guys for the frauds they really are, experts at telling you what already happened and totally missing the boat about what's really happening in people's basements. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. No one does stuff in their basements anymore. This is hi-technology; first you have to write a business plan and then raise some venture money.

tvictoriano
tvictoriano

Outsource everything even the IT support guy was outsourced. The It guy looks for other type of thing to make money

ksteinbr
ksteinbr

The importance of an Information Infrastructure is not mentioned. Any organization's success is dependend on end user access to reliable, up-to-date information. This requires an organizational Information architecture and Information portals that provide individuals at all levels with personalized access to the right information at the right time.

Nick
Nick

I agree with Peter that both items 4 & 5 are inevitable. It is one of the largest market demands today to have flexibility in deployment making use of both "in-house" and "hosted" subscription technologies. These services have proven their value to pretty much every industry and are a huge catalyst for business growth especially for small and medium businesses. Peter also points out the critical issues of available service providers and integration concerns. These are both very valid. For years we had these same issues finding good providers that had more than 1 product or service to offer and would integrate with our other systems. Eventually these concerns became so great we took the opportunity to open our own SaaS company ( www.FuzeData.com ) to fill those needs for both ourselves and everyone else. FuzeData has probably more than 100 solutions today and just keeps adding them to meet customers needs. Unlike Peter though we typically haven't needed 3rd party platforms for integration. The software manufacturers are providing us more integration options with each release of software. Through use of virtualization we are no longer hardware dependent and can move solutions quickly between equipment, facilities, and customer sites as needed. The contract-less, pay for what you use terms makes SaaS a clear advantage to business. Nick Preuss, FuzeData Inc.

acguitarte
acguitarte

Perhaps it's worthwhile to note that telcos are acting like banks and banks like telcos. That's a trend that we're seeing in Asia and will soon take over the rest of the world in the next few years. The key technology enabler? Mobile computing. The profit motive? Vertical integration.

chris.lambert
chris.lambert

Hi all, The 3d printer point looks to have raised a comments. But I don't see why not. Has anyone else come across this web site? http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome It's a Open Source 3D Printer. OK it's still a few years from being finished, but it's getting there and maybe in 5 years it will be complete. Chris

denny.epperson
denny.epperson

Gartner always has to have an easy to remember number of predictions: Top Ten, 4 Quadrant, etc. So this list has quite a bit of filler; many items could be combined. That also may be why they added the last item on 3D printers. Of course there is a nich market for that, but still very niche in our services based economy. Going green is the focus of several of the items that could have been put into one. It seems Gartner is getting off cheaply, since the Green Bandwagon has been traveling faster and faster (not that it isn't a good thing, it's just an easy target). I have to agree with Jason that open source in commercial software is a so what kind of item. Open source use within custom development shops are much more interesting and impactfull on business bottom lines. Outsourcing IT Infrastructure? Come on guys, that isn't a prediction, it is a review of recent history. Finally, the two predictions that are intimately interrelated are the use of subscription based software and smaller device usage by travelers. This is the real economic and market changing behaviors that completely change the commercial software business model.

mgrieves
mgrieves

Wow! What a lame list. People pay Gartner for this? Except for the 3-D printer, there wasn't much "transforming" going on. Gartner's list is pretty much about incrementalism. Looking back over the last 50 years at ten year chunks, it's a good bet that there will be some major transformations in the next ten. However, these transformations aren't on Gartner's list. Mr. Hiner wasted his time commenting on Gartner's list.

Tig2
Tig2

The first one I can agree with wholeheartedly- I used Windows for years, now I drive a Mac. And slowly, as the family replaces hardware, they are joining the Mac revolution. There is a greater perception of freedom of choice lately that is a driver here- people are basing their purchase decisions on defining their needs and purchasing the platform that meets them best. I can't imagine going completely away from a laptop-like device. I need the screen real estate and high resolution in order to do anything more meaningful than make a list. That said, a sub-notebook can fit 100% of most people's requirements. Open source deserves a seat at the table on both the server and the desktop fronts. Power is a big issue and "green" tech is important, but I don't see CO2 being much of a consideration. That day may come, but it isn't here yet. I think that end users needs should drive technology purchases. But the caveat is that it drive with IT at the wheel. Otherwise a lot of stupid dollars get spent on technology that doesn't have staying power. A 3D printer is interesting. I don't think that 2008 is its year. I hardly use my 2D printer. That said, it would be fun to have! A trend that I didn't see listed but I think is up and coming is the blended IT/Business degree. An IT generalist with the business acumen that is so necessary today.

opensource?bah
opensource?bah

Sure Apple will make inroads into the PC area. However, without a major rework of the iPhone, there is no real business application. As for Linux, fanboys will always use it exclusively, but as it is already making inroads (Microsoft/Novell, Oracle for DB and so on) use is a no-brainer. However, Google Docs and OpenOffice.org and other such need major improvements. As such, they will be used to an extent, but when it comes down to it, Microsoft will still own Office applications. An an example, Excel will still be the Gold Standard. Sure there are spreadsheet apps out there but they are limited. However, in five years, who the heck knows where other spreadsheats will be. And who knows what Microsoft will decide to do. Other examples abound. Microsoft is nimble enough to make the changes necessary to destroy or at least keep the competition down. Witness Netscape, which started as the best Browser, but kept getting watered down and is now defunct. There will always be other Browsers, but IE will certainly be hard to replace. Especially for SMB's as well as large enterprises. Think differently? Microsoft's bid for Yahoo will be goosed to perhaps $33 or $33.50 but in the end, even Jerry Yang will take the money and run. 'Nuff said.

sthomas170
sthomas170

They better add technical professionals leaving the field in droves. That might have an impact as well.

Ed.Ridland
Ed.Ridland

Gartner, like any other pundit has an average success rate of less than 50% when predicting the future. Everything Gartner says is skewed by the fact that their typical customer base is very large corporations (because small companies can't afford to talk to them!), so while some, all, or none, of these may be true, a SMB shop is always going to do a better job of being able to predict its own future rather than trying to follow the Gartner path. SMB's need to focus on making their own plans for the 5 year horizon and not waste valuable resource trying to follow the Gartnerisms. Ed Ridland @ Edginet.com

htmapes
htmapes

Mac will make huge inroads in the desktop and consumer devices. It will have no impact at all on the server market, SaaS, or anything else where business is transacted. Mac will not make real inroads into the professional IT market. What is interesting is how these trends may reinforce or deter each other. For example, if SaaS takes off, then carrying a laptop while traveling becomes much less important. Also, corporate IT is going to care much less what OS or hardware you're running, providing support only for the thin client portion of the desktop.

htmapes
htmapes

Mac will make huge inroads in the desktop and consumer devices. It will have no impact at all on the server market, SaaS, or anything else where business is transacted. What is interesting is how these trends may reinforce or deter each other. For example, if SaaS takes off, then carrying a laptop while traveling becomes much less important. Also, corporate IT is going to care much less what OS or hardware you're running, providing support only for the thin client portion of the desktop.

Barry ZA
Barry ZA

9 I agree with, but 3D printers?? No, I don't think so. One item that should be added is that paper usage should drop as contracts, orders, delivery notes, etc will become electronic. DHL and others will accept a thumbprint or digital signature on a handheld when delivering goods (physical). Software will be delivered via the 'Net.

rkbalina
rkbalina

I am not sure if some of the trends i9ndicated are going to become reality! Especially trends like Open source penetration, CO2 foot print and 3D printers. I am not sure, howmany end users will have the wherewithall to assess CO2 footprint in their assessment of a product or technology! hence, it may not be a trend in next 5 years. it could be the next wave after the power conservation and greener IT initiatives. I feel, CO2 foot print may be logical extension of the emrging trend of power concious IT teams. So, it could be the trend post next 05 years and may not be in next 5 years. Open source as an emrging trend may be doubtful. Open source may find its way in few, not so mission critical applications. However, It staff may still depend on software supported by some vendor for mission critical applications. It is also related to IT teams preferring to buy IT as a service and preferring to pay as they use, like most of us do for bandwdith these days! Thus, a vendor who is going to run an infra. on which lots of customers run their business critical applications, cannot afford to run Open source applications and run the risk of not getting timely support should something fail. Further, the SLA driven model like this, cannot work, if a service provider did not have a back-to-back support arrangement with original software provider. I am really doubtful about the emergence of 3D printers. Does Gartner mean it will be emerging trend for an emerging industry or is it going to be across the board. With so many os us avoiding paper, i am not sure, what will drive the "fantasy" of 3D printers. One major trend I am enviaging is virtualisation and information sharing among IT peers, in an open way that never happened in the past. IT professionals have all started recognising the fact that they all face same threats and they all are prone to facing same problem that one of their friends' may face a little earlier or later. thus, there is a "perceived" value in sharing the information regarding the incidents each of them faced, the threats each of them faced or envisaged, so that as a community they can be better prepared to minimise the risks and avoid "reinventing-the-wheel", individually!

stubones99
stubones99

1: The Mac is enjoying a "grass is greener" boom because of the constant problems people are having with Windows PC's. The "No viruses on Macs" crap is just that. The more popular they become, they also will become a more popular target. 2: Some palmtop devices are fairly capable devices. On the otherhand you have to look at what these people are actually producing. Usually lots of hot air and little actual productivity. 3: Open Source is making lots of ground against the standard software model. Look at the web server stats, or even browser stats. Mozilla has enjoyed a "hate microsoft" bubble lately, and they do a pretty good browser. 4: look at any software sold today and you will see that you're almost renting it already. To stay current, you have to keep buying the product upgrades or subscriptions. So at least they will be honest about their marketing plans. 5: Look at Google Apps and there is easy proof of that statement. 6: Power should have always been a criteria on all purchases on a multitude of levels. The more power a device consumes, the more heat it generates and raises the amount of air conditioning required. Why waste energy, ever? 7: plant a tree (or a dozen) if you want to change the carbon footprint. Most of the low CO inititives are simply hot air and politics (more hot air). Most will be negative impacts on our environment. 8: See #7 9: IT must realize that it is a gear in the machine. It isn't the machine but something that makes the machine work better. Listen to your users and all will be happier. 10: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a model is worth a thousand pictures. I would love to have a modeler that could take a plastic block and carve out what I can imagine in Sketchup.

tech10171968
tech10171968

Concerning item #9 ("End user preferences will drive half of all IT purchases") I can see why many IT departments tend to be at least a little inflexible in their policies regarding user devices. Most sysadmins (myself included) have fought/are fighting tooth-and-nail to protect their company's networks and data from various attack vectors. Just when you think you've got all the bases covered, Joe User comes in with his 2Gb SanDisk thumbdrive and unwittingly introduces yet another vector for the system to be compromised. What's worse is that you have no idea just how many of these devices are floating around in your network, or what is on each of these devices in the first place (could Joe User be introducing a trojan from something he DL'ed from home? What happens when he loads the thumbdrive with proprietary data, only to lose that thumbdrive when he leaves the office?) As one could imagine, trying to keep track of all these devices and their potential impact on network security can be akin to herding cats. I think where a lot of IT professionals fail is in not making it patently clear to the user just why and how his personal device(s) may pose a threat to his company's network and data. Many users don't quite see the threat the way that the IT department does and simply handing down some draconian policy without a good explanation only make the sysadmin and IT department look like a bunch of jerks. I'm sure there's some way to allow the use of approved devices but, until that time comes, a restrictive policy may be the only way to minimize any potential for a self-inflicted compromise of the network and any proprietary data.

reed-charles
reed-charles

Within engineering 3D printers (properly 'prototyping') are moving like mainframes to PCs. They're almost desktop, off the shelf items. BUT they are only one of many sub-sets of computing within engineering. I can't see why it would be classed as mainstream IS.

bdmore
bdmore

3D printers DO NOT USE PAPER and have nothing to do with printing out information or drawings in paper. 3D printers create physical models of CAD drawings. This is a real 3 dimensional parts milled out of clay, wood or wax that can be used to create a cast for production of such part or prototypes. The author completely missed the point in this one because he based his analysis on an incorrect assumption. 3D printers is one area with a highly potential for growth if prices come down. The potential customer base for 3D printers under $10,000 is huge, these are small machine shops, hobbyist and inventors who cannot justify the cost of current 3D printers. Here is a sample of a 3D printer http://www.zcorp.com/Products/3D-Printers/ZPrinter-450/spage.aspx

martyn.watts
martyn.watts

I agree with this reply. The failure to take off as a consumer item will not be because of a lack of customer desire (as opposed to need), but as a result of the average user's problems with producing a 3D drawing worth converting to solid form. Avatars? Maybe as a flat extrusion of the 2D drawing. However, what are the chances of turning out reasonable 3D replicas of the dragons, cartoon characters, etc used as avatars? There may well be greater uptake than at present in the world of engineering, where the ability to produce prototypes quickly and cheaply would be a great advantage.

KJQ
KJQ

Our paper usage has gone up every year since I first heard the term "paperless office". Now we have auditors saying our SAP electronic requisitioning is not acceptable, and we have to print everything for signature, and send originals to head office (i.e. more copies made for local records). Finally some good news for the paper mills ;-)

daniel.lauten
daniel.lauten

Not to advertise but a product called Sanctuary Is perfect for controlling thumbdrives on your network. It has many other security oriented functions and integrates with AD nicely. It's used by SOCOM. Basicly you can link a user to a brand of device (thumbdrive) that has to be preinstalled. If a user is not approved to use a device he cannot. This way you don't have to disable USB ports on desktops or glue them shut like apperantly the CIA does.

KJQ
KJQ

Educating users on IT security is a lost cause where I work. I believe it's a combination of "it will never happen to me" thinking, "I'm too smart to every be infected/tricked/etc." and good old fashioned selfishness ("I want what I want and I'll do what I want to do"). I'm all for flexibility where this increases productivity, but the vast majority of requests are all about personal taste/preferences which do nothing to increase the end user's productivity, and everything to kill my IT support staff's trying to stay current with and deal with every increasing complexity, interoperability issues etc. We have catered to the "individual" so much in our society that I truly believe it will kill our businesses if we don't put limits on it. Call me draconian, but if they can't prove why they NEED (not want) something to get their job done, then they shouldn't get it, since even apparently innocuous requests take time to implement, time that should be spent on other more critical issues. One look at my network logs tells me how many spend their day (e.g Facebook, YouTube, Messenger etc. etc.). "The work ethic is dead - long live the individual".

memsley1
memsley1

I certainly agree with this post. Its not only a matter of dealing with the plethora of devices that could be potentially bought in by end users, its also a matter of how IT, with its limited resource and tight budgets, are able to support these in a production environment let alone the security aspects as companies are driven by SOX, APRA and corporate standards to increasingly secure customer data particularly in financial institutions. I believe though that IT needs to be flexible enough to cater for the introduction of new technology that assists with Business productivity and cost out to the business in general as long as the appropriate support structures can be established to support them. As an example our global corporate area recently allowed end-users to use symbian devices (palms, mobiles etc) that allow for the receipt and processing of email. The list of allowable devices contained 25 devices, many of different makes and models. Allowing all 25 would be too difficult to manage to establish support structures around them without leaving the end user stranded when the inevitable production issue arrises. As a result 5 devices were shortlisted and support structure established along with policy and security to restrict the potential for data leakage/loss. In this way we were able to retain control and support the end user without compromising the true customers data and our companies own IP.

Tig2
Tig2

The CIA determined that thumb drives would not be permitted on their network. So they filled the USB ports with epoxy. Overkill? Perhaps. I found that by working through the issues with end users, they could begin to see and understand the need for security. But truthfully, I find that the process only works in environments where security is a real concern- not where it is paid lip service at best. Everyone has heard of the high profile security breach. That makes it easy to relate the restrictions to something that the end user has some personal connection with. In extreme cases, I have taken the step of sitting down with the user and their management to discuss how we can accommodate the need and still be compliant to policy. In a great many cases, I have had a user tell me, "I thought that _______ was the only way to do this!" They are often happy to hear that they have alternatives.

leo
leo

Apple will double its share and at the same time 50% of the people leave their laptop at home (or at work?). This doesn't add up, unless iPhone sales go through the roof. My prediction: netbook sales will soar and people will be delighted to have a longer battery life with these great little road machines. And the OS? Who cares about the OS? The meaning of the OS will diminish in favor of lean and mean (net)applications.

DAIUTO
DAIUTO

The comment about high speed bandwidth making it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites & still receive teh same response time... What are the "OTHER SITES"? Does this mean connecting to remote sites within the company or third party connectivity, such as database hosting?

mdhealy
mdhealy

Open Source is of course already here, much of our infrastructure already uses it where I work. As for the prediction that laptops will vanish, that could have happened already if the industry had defined a standard docking station. What has prevented ultra-mobile devices from taking off is mostly the lack of a standard docking station. If such a standard existed, it would soon become expected that places like hotel rooms would have it, and then ultra-mobile devices would take off. Which would, in turn, bring down the high prices of ultra-mobile computers as volumes soared. Right now for getting real work done on the road I've got to carry my display and keyboard with me, I cannot do real work on a tiny keyboard and display.

plangham
plangham

Server virtualization technologies like VMWare and Xen are going to reshape the way server systems are deployed in a dramatic way. I have already seen much of it used to more efficiently deploy datacenters at large installations like government and healthcare and finance sectors. It is so very very good for so many reasons. PL

janwillemdenoudsten
janwillemdenoudsten

Jason, towards the end of the coming five years i believe we will see many more BRE's in operation. This will be adding to the necessary agility of an organisation at the expense of large numbers of software developers (most of whom were just adding to the red-tape-feeling business often rightly has when thinking about IT). jan willem

dkgrant
dkgrant

Are IT people becoming obsolete at small companies

ben
ben

The spectrum of Green IT issues: Mac 15% of IT market? I guess you mean 15% of the desktop sales, to which I say ?maybe?. Will this profoundly impact IT professionals? I think not. OSX is just another unix (sorry no offense intended) so whatever. The flip side is you can see OSX as the enabler of the growth in Mac share, making it viable for large IT managers to consider as anything but a pain in the rear. Perhaps Apple will have similar epiphanies and soon we?ll forget that it was once so different. Green is Red: No doubt ?green? is the buzz word for the decade. Some good will come from it. The CO2 clamor will have an impact on everything, heck it is already having an impact. ?Thus, I don?t think CO2 will have a major impact on IT purchasing until governments set standards and pass laws to make it an issue.? Too late to say ?no?, it is already happening. We?ve got lots of laws in the works and policy makers are salivating overtime. The impact is already being felt as fortune 500 companies jump on the bandwagon. Some of their leaping will not do much harm (business wise or environmentally), but I?ll lay down a prediction that lost of the CO2 mitigation will be economically disastrous and, perhaps more concerning, will prove to be environmentally disastrous as well. Flip side is that there will be huge new opportunities brokering the carbon credits and other insane artifacts of the GWS run amok. First we will see more ?green? tax credits, then other incentives (accelerated depreciation schedules, subsidies, etc) for switching to solar providers, ethanol fuels and so on, then (quickly) we?ll see severe penalties for NOT jumping on the green machine. Predicting this is like telling you what the weather will be like yesterday. 3D printers: that?s a good one in the ?but who cares?? category. I believe a 100 fold increase in market presence is possible ? who?s even seen a 3D printer today? There have to be a couple dozen deployed worldwide? Tell me more?sounds like a wide open opportunity. Someone tell me how to catch the wave.

artyler916
artyler916

Moves are already afoot to replace OS's with a virtual environment, completely freeing applications from the non-standard and limiting environments in which they currently have to run. This will result in the applications taking on larger tasks as the details of dealing with real databases vanish to deal with virtual databases, running in environments where the storage needs sizing and adjusting. This really unnecessary even now, but we keep armies of techies monitoring and playing. No future in that occupation. Applications become larger and more complex, but SAAS will ease the way and OSS SAAS makes the task development easier to achieve. Hey Bring that future on!

blarman
blarman

1. With respect to Mac's market share, I think that Microsoft's flubbing of the Vista launch and the continued improvements to Mac and Linux are going to drive more and more competition. The current price of MS Office and the viability of substitutes such as OpenOffice are going to continue to bite into Microsoft's dominance. It isn't anything anti-Microsoft, it's basic market forces: given a choice between two products with little differentiation, consumers choose the less expensive one. 2. Business travelers rely on being able to get thing done while on the road. If their business can be conducted using email and messaging, cellphones and ultramobiles are more than capable. If they need access to corporate apps, however, those other devices just aren't capable yet. I give this one several more years (5+) before it comes close to reality simply because unless it is a web-based app, it will have to be re-written or ported over to the new devices. 3. Hiner hits this one on the head. 4. 1/3 is pretty ambitious, but not overly-ambitious. The key to SaaS is in whether or not the individual providers can find a market large enough to support their non-customized software. They have to focus on the masses. Niche businesses (like mine) have specialized needs that SaaS can't satisfy. 5. I think 40% is way too high a number. Business continuity is a critical factor, and anything that places your data and infrastructure away from your business is a serious risk. There is also the data privacy issues of hosting said resources outside of the US. I think 40% is a gross overestimate. 6-8. As has been seen in many recent surveys, cost is the driving factor - not the "greenness". Few companies are buying "green" equipment unless that equipment also demonstrates an overall cost savings. I think Gartner is making way too big a deal and attributing this to something other than what it is. 9. Let's get back to the basics: IT is a service. It's customers are internal business users. IT shops that ignore those users or give poor service are getting outsourced, so again, this is more market forces at work than some revelation. The biggest thing I see is that more users are getting involved in helping design new applications and are better able to quantify what they want because they have examples in their consumer electronics. I only see this helping IT because they can spend less time guessing at what the end-user REALLY wants. 10. I have to echo the authors' sentiments: this item just seems to be a throw-in to help them get 10 items. There is no doubt that engineering shops are interested in rapidly prototyping new models, but the application of these devices is not applicable to many industries. All-in-all, I think Gartner would have done better with a top 5 list, as several of these are the same thing.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Of course they will grow 100 fold: first of all, that will not require many sales (ie. relatively few units in use thus far), and second of all as pointed out (maybe not clearly), the drop in price compared to massive benefits to rapid prototyping will make it nearly impossible for this segment to not grow.... 3rd... they are also a lot of fun to mess with! fw.

icubub
icubub

There are things that Gartner has missed in its analysis. First is the speed at which computing power continues to increase (Moore's law), and its next major jump into the realm of quantum computing. Why does this have a business impact? With each advance in computing power comes the ease at which encryption can be cracked. Business will have to stop just relying on encryption and take a more holistic approach to security, starting with better user education. Enabling auditing on servers and network devices, and improving and creating better monitoring tools will need to be done as well. Also missing, advances in AI and business process refinement (intepreting business functions, trends, etc.), plus major changes in the user interface (voice recognition, etc.). The keyboard and mouse will slowly become a thing of the past. Newer input devices are on the market now, and will only improve.

scripter
scripter

There actually are a number of corporations actively avoiding open source. Their legal departments got scared by SCO and refuse to allow any OSS that does not come with patent indemnification. I have to run through serious hoops to get OSS deployed, even when the cost advantage is in the six figures, and I only succeed about 15% of the time.

abhishek0216
abhishek0216

So much is said about so much things and stuffs which are going to come, but one thing is missing for sure, and that is the power of linux. This OS will go on to be next competitor of windows, and definitly, the power of open source will come into the for then.

mark.tuttle
mark.tuttle

1. it is possible apple will experience a non linear growth, linux variations will also nip at MS dominance. cost will drive the solution. Apple is cleaner, and better user experience for 90% of all business uses. 2. As I learn more about open software as a philosophy I think it will dominate in the long run 3. I didn't see anything on security, these devices people bring into the network, often have unforeseen consequences, and company computers with a USB port will leak info to USB memory sticks... for example. Wireless also a big challenge. Also Authentication, if we had a strong 3 factor authentication for web, bank, email, ect.... thanks for the continued posts, mark tuttle biogy.com

raor
raor

Gartner, in their special brand of wisdom have read some of the trends right , however my take .... 1. MAC AND UNIX will make serious inroads into the Desktop and engineering applications. They will probably cross the 20-30% mark of Market share. But will this revolutionize anything!! 2. The LAPTOPS will still be there, coalesced/integrated/mobile'ised they surely will look differrent to what they are currently. I do not see what this will mean to IT. I guess the process of individual empowerment has begun and will gather steam, this definetly has the power to transform the user perception of IT. 3. I personally do not see what the hoopla about open source is , as currently , in India , there is increasing pressure to lower ownership costs on ALL fronts. If anything this will be something that everyone is doing so I do not see any competitve advantage of any kind here.I somehow do not see what this can do to transform IT. 4.& 5 are certainly a trend very visible and will be the defacto way to go. 7 & 8 are way to generic and non intrusive at present and so will need some legislation and laws and are more in the critrera of vendor selection, although how this will transform IT is not clear. The most important aspect that has the potential to transform IT will , in my opinion , be the integration of the user experience across ALL media and ALL locations. This trend is likely to take of once the BIG guys can standardise the look and feel for a user across any OS any interface and any location. What one sees and interacts with for communication,mail, business and leisure should present a smooth acros the board look/touch/feel.

bdmore
bdmore

They don't need to become a household item in order to grow 100-fold as Gartner claims. In a very small industry, a 100 times growth is still is not enough for the product of that industry to become a household item. Gartner claim is more a possibility than an exaggeration.

Barry ZA
Barry ZA

I know what 3D is. The comment on paper was not meant to have anything to do with 3D printing. I meant it as another trend that should permeate IT in the next few years. Grow trees to mop up CO2, not to produce paper.

larry
larry

You're right, but the business opportunity is to sell the model file that you created to the consumer, who can generate the figure on his/her own printer, avoiding physically producing the model and shipping it. Virtual factory.

lucien86
lucien86

What do 3D printers have to do with paper? they don't use paper silly people. As for what these machines can do - pretty amazing things. -The problem with creating good 3D drawings I do agree with but its not peoples (users) fault, its the abysmal quality of the 3D editing software out there. - Especially in the sub thousand dollar bracket. I keep hoping that the huge need for 3D models will drive the creation of better software and editors that are less cumbersome and expensive (no luck so far). Where are the solid modeling 'clay' based editors we were promised 10 - 12 years ago??? Common availability of 3D printers can only help - so bring them on.

Kevin@Quealy.net
Kevin@Quealy.net

We setup Sanctuary at my previous company and it's terrific at controlling thumbdrives, cd writers, etc. If I'm ever in a position where I need this type of security again I won't hesitate to use some sort of software control like Sanctuary.

jtrigsby
jtrigsby

Two or maybe three items on this list, and at least the absence of ANY OS from the list, just prove that the platform is becoming more and more meaningless. Macs in the workplace, subscriptions, outsourced data centers, oh and don't forget leaving your laptop at home... they all point to one thing. End users EXPECT applications to work on every platform. Combine web based or virtualized environments with portable apps and you can begin to see what I mean. For me personally, I have my "necessary" apps on my iPod, and have migrated everything else I do to the web. Google Apps & Gmail! I can literally sit down at any computer with a USB port and do anything I need to do. Windows, Linux, Mac... doesn't matter anymore.

RyanNerd
RyanNerd

M$ is not going away no matter how much you hope for it. Get over it. Too many times the emperor Linux does not realize he has no clothes. Lots of FanBoys for Linux. My problem is that I almost had to take a flame thrower to my computer to get sound, video, printer, and USB drivers to ACTUALLY WORK on my Linux box. This was so maddening that I ran back to Windows (Not Vista, you Linux fanboys have a point there), but XP does just great.

gypkap
gypkap

Linux might be used more and more as a Web server, replacing more expensive Unix servers. Linux on a desk is unlikely, except as a dedicated PC for special purposes. Yes I've loaded and run Ubuntu. It has the same problem regular Unix has for running a computer: to do anything significant you have to go to the command line. How many execs and admins are going to want to do that just to make their UI green colored instead of blue? Windows and Mac are far more easy to use, and the typical user doesn't have to use a text editor at the command line.

rdbrown
rdbrown

I question the sanity of the Gartner group in general. Their conclusions are shaky at best.

kmoore
kmoore

Around 1992, there was an ad campaign by someone, I forget who, where 2/3 of the page had the words, ?The Future Of Computing?. The words were fuzzy and blurred. Like many other people, I was quite certain that Intel and Microsoft could not possibly keep and build on their respective leads. Surly, we thought, by the year 2000, it will be wide open. ?There are just too many competitors.? ?The market is too big and complex.? I felt certain that Linux would quickly surpass Windows in speed and applications. Most of us, myself included, have very mixed feeling about MS and Bill Gates. But they have maintained the lead providing what are (usually) the first and the best products. Pick out any year since 1985. Then go back 5 years and look at the predictions for the next 5 years. While it is true that some predictions are somewhat accurate, the predictor is just as likely to be wrong the next time as anyone else. I love Linux. But today as in the early 1990s, the future of computing is fuzzy and blurred.

david
david

How did it not make the list? Are they oblivious to the obvious? I evaluated and researched the potential of Linux about 5 years ago and concluded that it had a lot of potential, but was not ready for the mainstream yet, with the exception of a few niche server apps. Looking at it today, I conclude that it's ready for most any server role and that Linux at the corporate desktop is close to becoming a reality. I predict that in 5 more years, Linux will not only be ready for any desktop and or Server role, but that it will push Microsoft to the brink of extinction. Are you Laughing? Anyone remember Novell? Funny thing is that Novell is betting the farm on SUSE Linux and may end up having the last laugh ~10 years from now when everyone is saying, Hey do you remember Microsoft? :)

david
david

How did it not make the list? Are they oblivious to the obvious? I evaluated and researched the potential of Linux about 5 years ago and concluded that it had a lot of potential, but was not ready for the mainstream yet, with the exception of a few niche server apps. Looking at it today, I conclude that it's ready for most any server role and that Linux at the corporate desktop is close to becoming a reality. I predict that in 5 more years, Linux will not only be ready for any desktop and or Server role, but that it will push Microsoft to the brink of extinction. Are you Laughing? Anyone remember Novell? Funny thing is that Novell is betting the farm on SUSE Linux and may end up having the last laugh ~10 years from now when everyone is saying, Hey do you remember Microsoft? :)

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

at our last show,we handed out trophies made of wood. Computer etched with picture / logo, show name, trophy type etc. on Friday night after judging, we emailed the winners file tothe place, he finished them bypersonalizing with the winner's names ont he appropriate tropy! DOn't know if they used the craftsmen thing but something similar out already probably.

Lago
Lago

How funny... Me and the wife just saw a commercial for a Craftsman 3D printer(CompuCarve...yech!). It shows a guy drawing on the computer and then WALA...the ornamental wood carving is reproduced on his 3D "printer". I even commented that it looked like a big InkJet. The cost is about $1800. http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00921754000P

bdmore
bdmore

The way you put it can be misinterpreted. Thanks for the clarification.

bdmore
bdmore

And I don't know why since Gartner explained very well what a 3D printer is.

dcavanaugh
dcavanaugh

For businesses that want to economize on software cost, there is an open source replacement for almost any product. It is not a coincidence that the most robust open source offerings are competing head to head with the priciest commercial products. When I don't want to pay for a software product, I find a non-pirating way to avoid the expense. There is simply no excuse getting caught with pirated products. In some companies, the advantage of open source is the ability to circumvent a boatload of financial/administrative approvals before a commercial product can be purchased. Too much of "IT governance" comes from people who work with the efficiency of ... well ... government. That said, the power of Linux is unlikely to hit the end user's desktop. Windows is bundled so as to be nearly unavoidable; its perceived cost is zero. The product has its problems, but it works well enough. You don't save much by ditching Windows on the desktop (although you CAN save a bundle by using open source products in a Windows environment). For people who want to be free of the endless parade of help desk tickets, OS X is a great choice. Sure, it's pricey, but a luxury car can be a bargain if it stays out of the repair shop.

vijayk29
vijayk29

I am a little surprised that there is not much mention / discussion about Google Apps. I have a feeling that Google might enter strongly into the Apps space especially in the era of Cloud Computing. This is my two cents to this whole discussion

ScarF
ScarF

First of all, I don't think that a small company has 1000 employees. 100 may be a better figure, and 50 computers connected to one LAN. Chinese merchandise flooded everything around. Less than 1 Km (half mile) from my office is located a mall with 100% Chinese stuff, including pirated movies and software. This is the reality for the small companies when they try to save money: they use well-known software installed illegally. This is easier for these companies' users and, definitely chipper for the company itself. So, forget Linux and its so called financial advantage. And, regarding the Linux power,... hm. I've heard this for more than 10 years now. Every year I test new distros or versions for desktop, and every time I end being disappointed by the weak user experience. Linux is built by professionals for professionals, not for the end users. Companies like Sun or IBM weren't able to push it at the desktop level. Not that IBM is the best in marketing - remember OS/2, Lotus and others, but it invested a lot in Linux. The result is they were able to promote Linux at the server level. The real competitor on the desktop market against MS, is Apple. Look and learn what is the meaning of user experience doubled by aggressive marketing. OS X is an unbelievable OS and, by the way, it is also a UNIX flavour.

adanowotar
adanowotar

In the commercial world money is usually the key factor. I think a company around 1000 employees or less could as well work with linux even today, not to mention in 5 years. Just try to count how much you save on each license. The key problem is the IT support. And linux saves you money several times: the OS is free, the applications are free, it runs on a cheaper hardware (and it runs better)