Enterprise Opportunities & Challenges in 2009

Money-saving tech will flourish in 2009, but so will cyber crime.

What’s ahead in enterprise technology for the coming year? We explore new technologies to be on the lookout for as well as key security and data management issues.

Virtualization will be a major enterprise thrust

Companies are cringing as the double whammy of the recession and the credit freeze are crippling them, and they are looking to cut costs by any means necessary. That’s why IDC predicts that virtualization will be really big in 2009. But it won’t just be server virtualization and data consolidation, desktop virtualization will be hot too.

As companies virtualized, they are finding that there is a dearth of tools to manage their virtual environments, leading VMware (NYSE: VMW) and other vendors like Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), BMC (NYSE: BMC) and Fort sphere to unveil tools for this.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is expected to make further gains in the virtualization market, and VMware may lose ground to its attack. Already, several VMware partners have cozied up to Microsoft, and VMware itself has had to sign up for Microsoft’s third-party server virtualization validation program (SVVP).

Cloud computing will jell

More ancillary services will be built around the cloud to support enterprise capabilities. Databases in the cloud are already available; look to services such as VMware’s vCloud initiative, which let users switch back and forth between the cloud and on-premise systems, and expect a plethora of new entrants to the cloud computing service provider field.

Meanwhile, major players like IBM (NYSE: IBM), Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Microsoft will expand their cloud computing services. Microsoft, for example, recently launched its Azure cloud-based operating system, which is targeted at developers and will likely compete with Salesforce.com.

Everything as a service

This area is like one of those all-you-can-eat buffets where you get a bit of everything. Look for strong growth in software as a service, platforms as a service, databases as a service, security as a service, application development as a service, testing as a service.

The recession will boost enterprise interest in being able to access IT on a pay-as-you-go basis, without having to invest money and equally scarce IT resources in developing and maintaining applications in-house. However, companies’ interest may be tempered by fears that security may be inadequate and the question of who will be left responsible when there is a security lapse.

Also, what if the hosting provider blows it? VC firm Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers recently found out what can happen when data about startups that were applying for money from its $100 million iFund, which was designed to help companies develop programs for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch platforms, was splashed all over the Web because its former hosting service provider made a mistake.

Next page: The growing security threat

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The growing security threat

Security will become paramount. Various experts say the number of cyber attacks is on the rise, and it’s not just phishing or malware, hackers might become bold and powerful enough to target countries’ critical infrastructures.

Already, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan think tank, has called on the Obama administration to revamp America’s approach to homeland security.

One good thing to come out of this is that security experts and security professionals alike are urging the incoming president to be mindful of civil liberties and privacy while enhancing security.

Look for malware authors to launch even more sophisticated and complex attacks that are more difficult to
detect and stop
. The worms themselves will become more sophisticated, incorporating the ability to use the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and other security capabilities so they appear to network servers as encrypted messages, getting a free pass into the system.

Enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies like social networking and collaboration, may also increase the security threat.

It’s all about knowledge

As corporations seek to do more with less, they will push more knowledge to front line workers so they can make better decisions. The idea behind this is not new – back in the early 90s, we had knowledge management and knowledge bases that knowledge workers could access and we saw the rise of the data warehouse.

The idea is to provide more business intelligence (BI) to the front line.
More recently, a new breed of BI products has emerged,
and we have seen widgets that knowledge workers can put on their desktops, and the incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies into BI.

The most important advance for BI in the coming year may well be BI on the desktop. Microsoft plans to
offer pervasive BI, with its upcoming Kilimanjaro SQL Server release, and other vendors are expected to follow suit.

The long arm of the law

It’s widely expected that there will be lawsuits galore over the crashing and burning of Wall Street. That will boost sales of e-discovery technology as businesses scramble to cope with discovery motions and court orders.

E-discovery is the process of electronically looking through and finding documents and data for use as evidence in court cases. IBM recently unveiled a proactive e-discovery solution, and
several other vendors plan to make plays in this field.

Generally, e-discovery solutions seek ways to structure and tag electronic data and files so that they can be found as quickly and easily as possible, reducing the costs of doing so. Look for this area to become very hot in 2009.

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