Looking Ahead: Top 10 Tech Trends Through 2015

In a 2012 webinar, Gartner outlines technology trends that will reshape the way enterprises operate internally and connect with consumers. While some are already being implemented with the potential to expand in presence through the next couple years, some propose back-end changes that could fundamentally shift business processes. Images courtesy of Thinkstock

1. Consumerization and the Tablet

1. Consumerization and the Tablet: Tablets can be used in many ways by businesses to augment office space and tedious processes. Companies also often receive pressure from the top-down to accommodate for whatever devices consumers are using—Gartner calls this "the cool factor." To prepare properly for implementing tablet operations, companies need to determine security guidelines and use profiles, build integration timelines (the critical timeframe for tablets being 2012 through 2014) and shop around for critical vendor support if needed.

2. The Infinite Data Center

2. The Infinite Data Center: Racks are getting denser, performance per kilowatt is increasing, and smaller data centers are able to handle more. This is the premise Gartner establishes for businesses to work with in the next two years, suggesting that "utilization levels and compute-to-energy ratios are paramount by 2013." The report also emphasizes "logical growth without physical growth," as a way of retaining an organization's footprint. To do this effectively, Gartner suggests analyzing asset use and working with facilities units to consider upgrades, reduce refresh cycle times and increase cores, virtualization while forcing parallel processing.

3. Resource Management

3. Resource Management: Gartner emphasizes the increased awareness organizations must have surrounding energy usage, compute-to-consumption ratios and KPI consumption. This firm also suggests that energy management will become an enterprise-level discipline by 2017, which will be enabled by energy management information systems.

4. Mobility

4. Mobility: A mobile focus requires a change in mindset, which Gartner dubs the "seamless shift between computing and communicating." The report emphasizes that mobile devices are not PCs, and though security remains a challenge, the variety of devices users demand platforms on makes building portals more difficult, personal clouds and shrinking data centers are making it easier to meet the needs of consumers.

5. Hybrid Clouds

5. Hybrid Clouds: While, through 2013, more than 60 percent of IT adoption of the cloud will be to redeploy current applications, a shift will take place beyond that to exploit private and hybrid cloud techniques. For this, Gartner advises companies to develop only after public services have been integrated with private delivery. The report also emphasizes results, as even at an enterprise-wide level, peer pressure can move projects forward without valid business reason to do so.

6. Fabric Data Centers

6. Fabric Data Centers: Fabric data centers involve the integration of many IT elements that are commonly disaggregated, such as monolithic servers, storage and networks. This enables fast component replacement/substitution and service-driven RTI while optimizing workloads. Gartner projects things will continue to become increasingly integrated, until beyond fabric-based infrastructures, companies will embark on fabric-based computers, which will enjoy pooled and globally shared resources as well as any-to-any virtual connectivity. But one step at a time...

7. IT Complexity

7. IT Complexity: Pointing to Glass' Law (sourced to Roger Sessions of ObjectWatch), which states that "for every 25 percent increase in functionality of a system, there is a 100 percent incrase in the complexity of that system," Gartner emphasizes the ability of an enterprise to get the most out of IT money spent.

8. Big Data — Big Problems

8. Big Data — Big Problems: Organizations have struggled dealing with big data on both fronts: IT needs to manage it effectively and the business side needs to know how to use it. This tends to leave big data static. However, big data is a problem that only gets worse the longer you ignore it. Gartner asserts that companies should virtualize storage and deduplication, evaluate all data inputs to get rid of what isn't necessary, and then segment and prioritize what's left.

9. The End of Service Desks

9. The End of Service Desks: As users expect service in real time and crowdsourcing support is becoming more prevalent, the effectiveness of reactive processes of service desks is dwindling. Gartner suggests companies build transition strategies that enable a proactive business productivity team.

10. Virtual- and Software-Defined Networks

10. Virtual- and Software-Defined Networks: Virtualization means delivering on many of IT's promises: more automation, separating hardware from software, increased agility, simplified design, policy-based management, network management bonded to broader IT workflow systems, etc. This will bring a lot of change in terms of processes and interaction, between humans, systems and one another.

From continuing to grapple with data to integrating internal networks and storage, Gartner outlines 10 IT initiatives that will keep IT executives occupied for the next several years.