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Ten technology trends impacting the IT industry, jobs

IT needs to adapt or be swept away by the avalanche of data that users want to access everywhere with whatever device they have.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Trends such as cloud computing, “big data” and fabric data centers have begun to change the way IT pros do their jobs and the types of problems they have to contend with.

The top-10 IT industry trends to watch over the next several years, listed by Dave Cappuccio, Gartner’s managing vice president during Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit last week, include:

1. Consumerization and the Tablet: The advent of the iPad in 2010 caught IT unawares as the popularity of these portable devices infiltrated the enterprise. The rise of tablets has forced IT to rethink how it develops applications that do one specific thing, Cappuccio said.  “Monolithic suite of applications from one vendor” are going away in favor of “function specific, location specific even content specific applications … not a replacement to a PC but for certain situations an augmentation tool,” he said.

2. The Infinite Data Center: The trend of “reuse what you have” started a few years when the economy took a nosedive, and money for new data centers dried up, Cappuccio said. But spending capital on newer, more energy efficient servers will dramatically lower operating costs and increase computing power while deferring the need to buy a multi-million dollar data center. Thus even moderate-sized data centers can maintain the same footprint and save “hundreds of thousands of dollars” every year. “It’s not just PUE about how efficient your data center is now. IT efficiency is part of the equation … that we’re starting to see more focus on now,” he said.

3. Resource Management: The “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” philosophy will end up costing enterprises more in the long run because a fully depreciated server is inefficient, Cappuccio said. A newer server that uses half the energy but is more powerful with a smaller footprint should be purchased. He also said workloads on virtualized servers can usually be boosted with little increase in energy consumption

4. Mobility and the Personal Cloud: The personal cloud will replace the PC because users want to access data and applications with whatever device they have handy, rendering the “standalone box” of a PC obsolete, Cappuccio said. “Consumers are driving the bus” and IT can’t stop this wave of personal devices entering the workplace, but can try to steer users in the right direction, he said.

5. Hybrid Clouds: Through 2013, 60% of enterprise IT cloud adoption will be in the form of existing applications that have been redeployed outside the data center and through 2014, 80% of cloud initiatives will explore private and hybrid cloud options, Cappuccio said. Businesses need to explore what their “mission critical” applications are and what can be shifted into the cloud. “Non-necessary, non-critical compute -- let somebody else do it. As long as it gets done, that’s what’s important,” he said.

6. Fabric Data Centers: The rise of fabric computing will lead to “resource pools” that can be grown vertically until the computing power is maxed out when another pool can be created, Cappuccio said. Servers will be seen more as components in an IT rack which is part of the fabric. The idea is to “build an environment that’s easy to grow. Easy to manage in theory. And focused on vertical scalability,” he said. In the future, a fabric environment will be able to shift workloads to different clusters based on rules set by IT.

7. IT Complexity: The increasing complexity of the technological landscape means that IT needs to have more “generalists,” or people equipped broad set of skills rather than “islands of intelligence within a community” where people specialized in applications or networking or storage, Cappuccio said.

8. Big Data -- Big Problems: The surfeit of data, sometimes measuring in petabytes and most of it unstructured, makes it a challenge to process the information to uncover opportunities that competitors may not have spotted.

This trend was of particular interest to attendees, who sought strategies to handle big data for analytics of real-time fraud detection and the constraints of what types of data can be placed in the cloud.

One IT pro at the show said he is grappling with terabytes worth of data that need to be transferred; as a network administrator he “would never allow that to happen (over the network), even to a DR site.” Instead of pushing large amounts of data over his network, he said his company is resorting to the old-fashioned delivery method: “sneakernet.”

9. The End of Service Desks: Consumerization has lead intelligent users to crowdsourcing support where answers device or application problems can be found online or from friends. “How do I shift where service gets done, and who does the service?,” said Cappuccio. In today’s BYOD environment, the responsibility for the support of the device has blurred.

10. Virtual and Software-Defined Networks: The network needs to support more devices and has become more complex. Signs indicate software-based networks will be developed over the next few years where heterogeneous equipment can be managed by software, Cappuccio said. The flexibility is attractive where routing patterns and workloads can be shifted automatically based on rules.

Tom Walat is the site editor for Follow him on Twitter at @TomWalatTT.

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