Sunday, 06 May 2012 20:33

Cloud top trend in IT this year, but IT budgets under pressure


It will be much of the same in the ICT industry this year as it was in 2011, according to a global market trends report just published, which predicts continuing consumer tech disruptions will drive agendas even within the largest of enterprises, and that businesses face a tough time due to economic uncertainty, forcing them to 'pare IT budgets to the bone.'

In its IT trends report for 2012, CSC warns that unless something changes soon, economic growth will slow during the next several months, with businesses paring IT budgets to the bone, and every¬thing that can be pushed back or deferred will be.

The report, authored by CSC Australia and Asia chief technology and innovation officer, Bob Hayward, does, however, see some positives for the industry, with the momentum behind technology-enabled business growth and innovation remaining strong, and with IT investment not coming to a 'complete stop as in-flight projects continue.'

Hayward also cites Gartner's report for 2012 in which it projected US$2.7 trillion of global enterprise spending on information and communications technology.

And, Hayward says that this year it's all about delivering 'cheaper and better' for the industry. 'CSC's Leading Edge Forum (LEF) has identified, as the service economy of the new world matures, that enterprise is changing its view of IT from a choice between lower costs and more value to a new view where cheaper and better is the new norm,' Hayward says.

'In this new world, enterprise IT functions must reduce their back-office focus so they can keep up with the explosion of technology at the front of the company. As a result, enterprises in Australia will be casting their eyes over several technology trends in 2012, trying to discern the right time and the best approach to take the best advantage.'

Hayward also outlines what he sees as the top 10 enterprise IT trends this year and, not surprisingly, he puts cloud technology at the top of the tree as the number one trend, seeing the cloud bandwagon rolling on from last year, and 'transforming and redefining service availability in its path.'

According to Hayward, the five defining elements of a cloud service - elasticity, on-demand, metered consump¬tion, shared resources and Web access - start to become the 'default means by which new IT services are rolled out and implemented,' and he says that improved agility and removal of all the impediments for innovation become the most significant advantages gained by choosing cloud.

'There are subtle changes underway as the overall adop¬tion of cloud increases. The growing need for transparency, trust and governance will gradually lead to the emergence of voluntary industry codes of conduct, trust marks and confor¬mance to emerging standards, like the CloudTrust Protocol,' Hayward suggests.

Hayward also cautions that what he sees as currently, weak scrutiny by SMEs and consumers on the credentials of cloud providers, will adjust to reflect 'growing concerns over treatment of data, privacy and security,' adding that larger enterprises remain somewhat cautious about using global public clouds.

With cloud technology at number one in CSC's top 10 trends list, Hayward look briefly at the other nine major trends and what developments he says can be expected in these areas over the remainder of this year and beyond:

2. The demise of legacy assets
The huge inventory of legacy systems and applications is a substantial part of many enterprise IT portfolios. And yet it is missing out on all the exciting innovation from consumer tech, cloud and mobility. Something has to be done. Enterprises in 2012 start to seriously consider retiring, replacing or decommissioning legacy assets. And many will look to transform legacy to more contemporary languages (Java, C#, Ruby) and environments (x86, cloud) using a growing number of automated and semi-automated tools now coming into the market

3. Big Data
The potential value of gaining insights from analysing large and increasingly unstructured data sets has hit mainstream. In 2012 many organisations will try to apply the new shared-nothing architecture and distributed processing frameworks to store, process and manage business information. By the end of 2012, IT strategy and architecture vocabulary will grow to include terms like MapReduce, Direct Record Access or Queries, NoSQL Databases, Parallel Relational Databases, Hadoop (MapReduce engines) and many more. Big data means big backups and big recovery. Enterprises that do not engage comprehensive disaster recovery plan¬ning are playing with fire
4. Convergence of IT and OT
Business will look to exploit the increasing convergence between traditional information technology (IT) used across enterprises and operational technology (OT) used to sup¬port production and control assets. IT/OT convergence promises to integrate machines with enterprise systems, driving value-based optimisation and bullet-proof reliability. While IT has matured in reliability, its convergence with OT will not rapidly expand the traditional patch of enterprise IT as some are promising.
Nevertheless, we expect that in 2012 enterprise IT will increasingly work in the operational space. But the focus for enterprise IT must address the age-old divide between OT managers (mainly engineers) and their IT counterparts

5. Strategic leaking - the power of information transparency
The 2011 disclosures of hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks led CEOs, CIOs and senior managers to ask, 'How can I lock down my organisation's information and make sure this doesn't happen to me?' It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that companies will have to become more transparent, whether they want to or not. In 2012 we expect that the more strategic firms will ask a completely different question: 'What data and information that we've always considered confidential should we be making available online '” and how could we leverage the disclosure of that information?'

6. Post-PC mobility -  the consumerisation of IT
Smart, context-aware, mobile devices and enterprise applications that exploit the latest devices are making the traditional desktop/laptop computer seem old-fashioned, unintuitive and generally a drain on productivity.2012 will be the year that these truly mobile devices and applications become pervasive across the enterprise (in the new post-PC era). Enterprise IT must find ways to embrace this trend so it does not end up on the wrong side of history.
Enterprise IT must make significant changes in procurement, vendor management, employee support, security policies and legal compliance

7. The user is the universe, work anywhere - the enterprise no longer the centre
If we are indeed in a post-PC trend, then enterprise IT will require a greater level of understanding of our new perimeter at the edges. With increasing mobility, users are able to work anywhere, on any device and over any network (business, shared or third-party). Robust access like this raises notable security concerns. Traditional enterprise will grow beyond its accustomed perimeter, moving out to the edges. With stories of high-profile data breaches constantly in the news, security identity management will be in the spotlight. In 2012, forward-thinking organisations will understand the new perimeter and change current enterprise-centric approaches to a new user-centric federated identity management approach

8. Rapid knowledge capture - the drive to retain retiring baby boomers
There are thousands of baby boomers retiring now every year. Many are irreplaceable, and unfortunately there are simply not enough people to take their place. The result: a huge loss of critical knowledge and IP, most of which is tacit know-how built up over years of experiences that can't be easily transferred. The mass exodus, or 'great crew change' as some industries have labelled it, will drive targeted spending on rapid knowledge capture, storing and transference. In 2012, expect to see the use of virtual environments to communicate key business processes. New human-computer interfaces, like Microsoft Kinect and Augmented Reality, could allow some retirees to remotely stay on the job, shadowing and interacting with their younger peers

9. Taking it seriously - Green IT is in full bloom
IT sustainability has dropped off in importance due to global financial uncertainties. But the introduction of a carbon tax in Australia and rising energy costs will force enterprises to take sustainable IT seriously. In 2012 IT will lead the deployment of better tools required for detailed reports on energy use by business unit across the IT infrastructure, and to track continuous improvements in energy, ethical waste removal and water use. By the prudent and focused investment in intelligent IT systems in building management, supply chain, transport, logistics and energy production/distribution, the national goals of achieving carbon emission reductions in excess of 25% by 2020 can be achieved (without the need for a tax or trading scheme)

10. Collaborate without borders - the emphasis on offshoring knowledge & process
The global search for talent and insight at a competitive price will drive an increased emphasis on offshoring of knowledge work and the outsourcing of business processes in 2012. A readiness to go outside the organisation for skills and feedback will also raise the acceptance of crowd-sourcing and the use of social media to converse with the market, stay alive to new opportunities, generate ideas and create content. Technologies that enable or facilitate collaboration across the world in virtual teams will be major areas of investment

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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