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Cloud Computing will be one of the main catalysts for technology-savvy companies to stay in business

So, let’s take a look at Gartner’s 2008 and 2009 Strategic Technologies list:

2008 Strategic Technologies 2009 Strategic Technologies
1. Green IT 1. Virtualization (#5 previously)
2. Unified Communications 2. Cloud Computing (new)
3. Business Process Management 3. Servers – Beyond Blades (8)
4. Metadata Management 4. Web-oriented architectures (new)
5. Virtualization 5. Enterprise mashups (6)
6. Mashups 6. Specialized Systems (new)
7. The Web Platform 7. Social Software & Social Networking (10)
8. Computing fabric 8. Unified Communications (2)
9. Real World Web 9. Business Intelligence (new)
10. Social Software 10. Green IT (1)

I’d like to dive into these lists, not all topics but just the ones that caught my attention. Interestingly, I find that several of the items on these lists seem to have blurred boundaries while others clearly stand alone.

Green IT, Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Computing Fabrics/Servers – Beyond Blades, and the Web Platform/Web-oriented Architecture, in my mind, are Technologies where this “blurring” is clearly evident. Cloud Computing obviously is the buzzword of 2008 as well it should be. One can actually lump the others in this short-list under “the Cloud.” Fortunately (or unfortunately), this all-encompassing term is used in every technology conversation nowadays. The problem is, because it is being used as such a generic term, many people are having trouble really understanding what “the Cloud” truly is. Some points:

  • The Cloud is definitely “Green” in that there are obvious power and energy savings compared to traditional rack & stack servers.
  • Green works hand-in-hand with Virtualization. While power and energy efficiencies can be gained through hardware optimizations (e.g., green chips, reduction of power-hungry servers), these efficiencies can be more dramatically realized through virtualization of hardware appliances and components.
  • Similarly, Cloud Computing employs the use of Computer Fabrics; instead of partial resource utilization of a bare-metal server, with Cloud Computing one can target just CPU or memory aspects (infrastructure resources and components) and gain efficiencies through their isolated uses.
  • Finally, if you plug in the Web as a Platform or Architecture provider and delivery mechanism, one can clearly see how Computing resources can be delivered via said architecture as opposed to traditional methods (e.g., architect in and deliver via the Cloud vs. bare metal and more static and rigid infrastructures).

Back to my earlier point of Integration being a key driver of Web 3.0, Gartner lists (Enterprise) Mashups as another Strategic Technology to watch. I heartily echo this. It will, undoubtedly, take the Enterprise much longer to realize this from a concept point of view as well as the actualization of this technology, but we do know that integration is critical. Why not leverage experts from various practices and bolster your own services or products through integration with these experts. Mashups is a Web 2.0 buzzword that I would recommend be dropped for a more encompassing term of “Integration.” Mashup has the connotation of being very Web-centric (e.g., only visible on the web). Integration, on the other hand, can be applied to both Web-centric delivery but also to more behind-the-scenes channels of Web Services and specifically, APIs. Integration using APIs will give companies clear competitive advantages versus those SMBs or Enterprises that opt to maintain closed systems. Integration of systems can also help drive BPM (Business Process Management) as well as BI (Business Intelligence). By overlaying dissimilar data sets, new conclusions can be made based on the analysis of the data intersections or relationships, thus presenting more distinct and unique offerings.

Lastly and perhaps the ugly duckling of the group, Social Software and Social Networking, I believe will be core to 2009. During any economic crisis or recession, Companies immediately look to slash Marketing and PR budgets above all other Departments. Prior to Web 2.0, Marketing and PR was all about blasting your product or service messages out to the masses. Web 2.0 introduced the idea of engaging in conversations with groups of users and understanding the needs of those users. More recently, with the huge adoption of Social Networking by all types of users (business and personal), the message became even more targeted, reaching almost a 1:1 conversation. This has evolved into Social Marketing using Social Networking/Software as the delivery mechanism. While more difficult to do well and somewhat hit-and-miss at times, Social Marketing is potentially more efficient than dropping gobs of money on keyword buys, sponsorships, or events. Enterprises are already moving towards engaging their prospects or customer base through community-based outreach and social networking channels. Doing it right, however, is a completely different beast. It’s good to see that Gartner views this as a critical technology component of 2009.

We still have to maintain a clear perspective in all of this though. If the Global Recession truly hits as it seems that it will, the items on the list that directly and positively impact the bottom line of companies will naturally rise to the top. Maintaining a cost-effective, competitive advantage in the future will be much more difficult to achieve. I dare say that adopting Cloud Computing as a primary technology strategy will be one of the main catalysts for technology-savvy business to not only stay in business, but also be successful in the long run.

 

About Michael Sheehan
Michael Sheehan is the Technology Evangelist for Cloud Computing Infrastructure provider GoGrid and ServePath and is an avid technology pundit. GoGrid is the cloud hosting division of ServePath Dedicated Hosting, a company with extensive expertise and experience in web hosting infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter.

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