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Thursday, 17 November 2011 06:55

Quest Software shares ten predictions for technology trends and practices in 2012

By Michelle Taylor

Quest Software Inc. shares ten predictions for technology trends and practices in 2012 based on its latest The Experts Conference (TEC) Survey.

Ian Hodge, managing director - Australia and New Zealand, Quest Software, said, 'The IT community is responding to explosive demand for mobility, collaboration and social networking technologies. At the same time, virtualisation and cloud computing are reshaping how and where applications and computing power are managed and delivered. The implications on communications, security, provisioning, and systems management are enormous.

'How organisations are addressing these opportunities and challenges are some of the most important questions the IT community faces today.'

Quest Software's ten predictions for technology trends and practices in 2012 are:

1. SaaS growth will help drive wider adoption of cloud services. Although SaaS offerings cover the spectrum of business and technical applications, shared business services such as messaging, customer relationship management (CRM) and human resources are the most popular solutions.

Quest Software anticipates that the SaaS market will continue to see rapid growth over the next several years, particularly as cloud service providers overcome security and compliance concerns to accelerate acceptance.

2. Cloud service providers must overcome key concerns to accelerate acceptance. Public cloud services raise significant concerns over compliance, security and access management controls. Concerns include reliance on cloud provider performance to control risks, ensuring cloud services are compliant with corporate policies, the ability to trust vendors to provide required levels of security, availability and support, the ability for users to bypass internal IT controls, and excess spending on subscriptions.

While not insurmountable, these concerns must be recognised and allayed through better tools and practices, improved auditability and solution certification to build visibility and trust before cloud service providers will be able to make significant inroads into organisations with no plans to adopt cloud services.

3. Microsoft Hyper-V will make inroads in overcoming VMware's market dominance. VMware vSphere is currently the dominant hypervisor. While VMware has historically been viewed as more robust and feature-rich than Microsoft Hyper-V, more organisations are willing to pilot and deploy Hyper-V as an alternative due to its improving features and incorporation within Server 2008 R2. Given the success of production deployments by early adopters and the emergence of its first evangelists, Quest Software expects interest in Hyper-V to accelerate.

While Microsoft is unlikely to match VMware's dominance any time soon, Quest Software believes Hyper-V adoption will slowly erode the market share currently enjoyed by VMWare and position Microsoft as a player in the virtualisation market. Further, Quest Software predicts that 2012 will be the year of innovation in Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 and significant growth in customer numbers.

4. Lingering issues will create opportunities for 'virtualisation-aware' solutions. While most organisations are satisfied with their virtual environments, backup, performance monitoring and storage monitoring remain problematic. Quest Software believes this dissatisfaction is due to the slowness of legacy backup tool providers to adapt to provide simpler, easy-to use offerings that capitalise on the benefits of virtualisation. Backup concerns should lessen in the future as niche providers take advantage of this gap to offer special purpose backup tools for virtualisation.

Likewise, performance monitoring is an issue as traditional monitoring tools lack 'virtualisation awareness,' increasing the difficulty of managing rapidly growing production workloads. Without this awareness, monitoring tools assess a virtualised server as a physical server and miss hypervisor-only metrics that are crucial for optimising virtual environment performance. Divisions between storage teams and virtual environment administrators are the likely cause for the dissatisfaction with storage monitoring efforts with each group having only limited visibility into the overall performance of the highly complex storage subsystems shared across virtual environments. This will spur the interest in and need for 'virtualisation-aware' solutions.

5. Cloud workloads will remain mostly isolated for the foreseeable future. While the growth of private and public cloud usage ensures that more organisations will be supporting hybrid cloud environments, concerns about security, control and technology maturity lead most organisations to isolate internal and external workloads. As a result, cloud-bursting, the practice of moving ('bursting') excess workload to an external cloud on an on-demand basis when processing demands exceed internal data centre resources has yet to gain any traction within IT organisations.

6. Google and Microsoft will strongly challenge Apple's lead in the IT mobile market. Adoption of new mobile technologies is proceeding at an unprecedented rate. The new technologies are evolving rapidly and, unlike the desktop market, the battle to become the standard is far from over. When deciding which platforms to support, IT administrators face the challenge of balancing current market share and capabilities against long-term potential. Weaknesses will be fixed over time, and administrators will have to manage the devices that will be chosen by the majority of their end users. While Apple iOS is currently in the IT leadership position, Google Android's high ranking is likely a reflection of where the market will head as its sales increase and capabilities improve. Likewise, Microsoft remains a strong contender with Windows 7 (and upcoming Windows 8).

Given the rapid explosion of popularity in the mobile and apps worlds, the stakes in this market are especially high. Although Research in Motion's Blackberry had a great run from its first-to-market advantage in the smart phone market, that run is now waning. Microsoft is undoubtedly feeling the pressure to gain a dominant position, since mobile devices and tablets pose a very real threat to the now-legacy PC era upon which Windows was built. Apple's innovation and Google's mass appeal and open Android architecture only serve to raise the stakes. New players such as Chinese Huawei are standing in the wings, more than happy to ride the mobile wave into the enterprise, and beyond.

7. Cloud applications, compliance and mobile devices will drive a reshaping of corporate identity & access management (IAM) strategies. New compliance mandates, the growing use of cloud-based applications, and the proliferation of smart phones and tablets are causing IT organisations to rethink their identity management and user provisioning strategies to control support costs and better manage security. Quest Software finds that corporate managers want greater transparency in the IAM activities that support compliance-mandated governance processes. Meeting these concerns will result in many changes in how enterprise IT organisations operate and automate on-premises identity systems. As organisations seek better decisions about how best to control access, Quest Software predicts growing adoption of content classification systems to help identify sensitive data.

Other expected changes include:
a. increasing deployment of federation technologies and automated provisioning/de-provisioning systems to support cloud-based applications
b. greater support of user-driven self-service IAM functions to reduce IT costs
c. the implementation of more granular and flexible policy-driven authorisation systems for applications and files to extend controls beyond simple group membership.

8. Active Directory will continue to dominate, and the IAM framework market will see modest growth. Active Directory is the identity management platform of choice for enterprises, and Quest Software expects this dominance to increase slightly as some of the remaining users of Novell eDirectory shift to Active Directory. Given Active Directory's market acceptance, Microsoft's aggressive Enterprise Agreement sales and the TEC for Directory & Identity focus, it is not surprising that usage of Microsoft's Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) easily exceeds the usage of competing IAM  frameworks such as IBM Tivoli Identity Manager, Oracle Identity Manager, CA Identity Manager and Novell Identity Manager. Quest Software expects modest growth in both Microsoft and non-Microsoft framework categories over the next year.

9. Office 365 will see slow adoption, except among small businesses. Cloud-based email solutions offer organisations an increasingly attractive alternative for outsourcing their corporate email systems, including much of their operational overhead. Although on-premise systems, notably Microsoft Exchange, still dominate, cloud-based email solutions are catching on with early adopters. Vendors are using Office 365 at double the rate of IT organisations - this is as expected since vendors need to understand the platform to prepare their own solutions and encourage customers to consider and adopt the new Microsoft platform.

Quest Software predicts that Microsoft will find traction for Office 365 in the small business community, and that this is where most of Microsoft's growth will come from. Security and privacy concerns will continue to yield slow growth in the medium and large enterprise arenas. Quest Software expects Google to continue to struggle in demonstrating its ability to understand the enterprise. The weak performance of Google, and the less than- stellar success of Microsoft, serve to prop the door wide open for new challengers such as VMware's Zimbra to enter the race.

The cloud email market is still very much in its infancy and has much maturing to do. Widely regarded as one of the fastest growing Microsoft solutions in history, SharePoint has enjoyed tremendous adoption and deployment rates over the years. While Quest Software predicts that the pace of the growth will slow over time, SharePoint will continue to be on a high growth trajectory overall. This will, for most companies, prompt active investigation into how best to leverage SharePoint for business-critical activities and specific applications and let SharePoint continue to grow its collaboration market share.

10. Employees will face increased monitoring of their social networking activities. Social networking provides yet another challenge to corporate and government administrators seeking to monitor and control the flow of information that can impact their organisations. Employee use of social networking applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn blurs the boundaries between personal and business environments, and has implications for corporate branding image, regulatory compliance, personnel policies, information security and work productivity. Social networking policies are becoming a greater topic of interest as social media gains in popularity.

Most organisations are running blind without any visibility into the breadth and depth of social networking use, and abuse, within their employee base. Over time, reporting solutions will be implemented and more granular controls will emerge. Further, niche vendors who provide granular levels of control for companies subject to compliance regimes also are emerging, and that's a positive development for the market. Many organisations will not care about social networking until a PR or legal crisis tied to social networking technology hits and shines the spotlight on the problem.

Hodge said, 'Quest Software is constantly working to understand the issues and needs of the IAM, Exchange, SharePoint, virtualisation and cloud communities through interaction with its customers, review of the latest information from technology forums, and thoughtful analysis by its team of technology experts. This helps Quest Software build better products and provide organisations with knowledge and best practices to improve their productivity and efficiency.'

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