What technologies should manufacturing enterprises be focusing on in the coming years? According to IT research firm Gartner Inc., they should pay particularly close attention to any strategic technologies that can impact their long-term plans, programs and initiatives.
"Strategic technologies affect, run, grow and transform the business initiatives of an organization," says David Cearley, vice president and analyst at Gartner. The firm has compiled a list of what it considers the top 10 technologies and trends enterprises should be considering. "Companies should look at these 10 opportunities and evaluate where these technologies can add value to their business services and solutions," Cearley notes, "as well as develop a process for detecting and evaluating the business value of new technologies as they enter the market."
The top 10 strategic technologies for 2009 include:
As Gartner explains, virtualization to eliminate duplicate copies of data on the real storage devices while maintaining the illusion to the accessing systems that the files are as originally stored (data deduplication) can significantly decrease the cost of storage devices and media to hold information. Hosted virtual images deliver a near-identical result to blade-based PCs. But, instead of the motherboard function being located in the data center as hardware, it is located there as a virtual machine bubble.
- Cloud computing.
The key characteristics of cloud computing, according to Gartner, are: delivery of capabilities "as a service"; delivery of services in a highly scalable and elastic fashion; using Internet technologies and techniques to develop and deliver the services; and designing for delivery to external customers.
- Servers -- beyond blades.
Servers are evolving beyond the blade server stage that exists today, Gartner explains, and this evolution will simplify the provisioning of capacity to meet growing needs.
- Web-oriented architectures.
Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach (an agile, interoperable and scalable service-oriented environment) will enable its use in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.
- Enterprise mashups.
Over the next few years, Gartner foresees that the enterprise mashup product environment will experience significant flux and consolidation.
- Specialized systems.
A heterogeneous system is a server system into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function. Heterogeneous systems address the requirements of the most demanding workloads, and this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market.
- Social software and social networking.
Social software includes a broad range of technologies, such as social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation. Gartner recommends that companies consider adding a social dimension to a conventional Web site or application and that they should adopt a social platform sooner, rather than later, because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage.
- Unified communications.
During the next five years, the number of different communications vendors with which a typical organization works with will be reduced by at least 50%. This change, Gartner believes, will be driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communications applications to common off-the-shelf server and operating systems.
- Business intelligence.
Business intelligence solutions are directed toward business managers, knowledge workers and decision makers who are tasked with running, growing and transforming the business. Tools that let these users make faster, better and more-informed decisions, Gartner predicts, will become increasingly valuable in a difficult business environment.
- Green IT.
Shifting to more efficient products and approaches can allow for more equipment to fit within an energy footprint, or to fit into a previously filled center. Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers, as the effect of power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny. Organizations should consider regulations and have alternative plans for data center and capacity growth, Gartner suggests.