A Softchoice IT forecast: Hot technologies to watch in 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, Softchoice customers are evaluating the success and challenges from the present year, and planning for the year to come. The Softchoice Advisor sat down with our Manager of Category Marketing, Bryan Rusche, to understand the opportunity organizations should expect to encounter while continuing to mitigate risk and maximize efficiencies in 2012.

What are the key IT priorities that Softchoice and other organizations will be focusing on in 2012?

I think the big theme is continued economic uncertainty and the need to continue driving greater efficiencies within IT. Using that as the backdrop, I think there are four big areas where we will see our customers investing. One is going to be on providing efficiencies and better management tools on client infrastructure and helping organizations deal with some of the dynamics around new devices and operating systems. The second thing is driving greater efficiencies in the data center through greater density, more efficient use of power and cooling and better utilization. Unified Communications is the third area, particularly people-driven processes and creating efficiencies by reducing travel expenses as an example. Lastly, cloud – which remains the most
hyped term in the industry, will play a growing role. Spending on public cloud as an example is expected to grow four times faster than IT spend in general.

The evolving client infrastructure continues to be a hot topic. What challenges are organizations facing today and what solutions are they going to look to in 2012?

The most interesting driver now is the choice that end- users have with devices. People are bringing their own devices to work which is difficult because there is no standard for the OS on these devices, so organizations have multiple operating systems and different applications to support in addition to the different product vendors and so on. What we’re seeing in terms of organizations that have done a great job of adopting new devices is that they’ve invested in mobile device management. The other important piece is the availability of business productivity or enterprise applications for these devices, which we’re starting to see a lot more of – particularly with mobile enterprise application platforms that allow organizations to develop apps that will work on multiple devices.

As more demands are being put on the data center, it needs to continually evolve to meet them. Where do you think the data center is headed in 2012?

I think overall, data center efficiency is the trend. One area where we expect to see great ROI or reductions in total cost of ownership that are quantifiable is around technologies that help reduce power and cooling requirements. Virtualization is a key technology to enable that by providing better utilization of the servers that you have. Vendors are also coming out with new solutions for server storage and networking that provide better energy efficiency. In some instances we are seeing organizations that want to refresh servers on a 2-year basis because the reduction in power justifies the cost of acquiring the server.

Unified Communications continues to have a leading impact on organizations looking to enhance end-user collaboration. What should organizations be on the lookout for in 2012?

I think Unified communications is one area where there was some frustration with early deployments and getting them to work optimally. However, as these technologies and the vendors in this space have matured considerably, this is an area of great promise. Some specific areas within UC as we move forward will be people driven processes and how organizations start embedding some of these Unified Communications capabilities into the tools and applications that people are using on a daily basis. The other major area in Unified Communications that I think shows a lot of promise going into 2012 is around fixed mobile convergence and the mobilization of Unified Communications.

Finally, organizations are turning to the cloud as a way to bring down the cost and increase the speed of implementation. many applications will always still need to live within their own infrastructure. With this new paradigm of private, public and hybrid clouds, what are some of the challenges that iT departments are going to face in 2012?

The reality is that we see organizations adopting across a broad spectrum of cloud offerings. Whether that’s infrastructure as a service, platform-as-a-service, or software-as-a-service, or whether it’s public or private, every application has unique requirements and a different tolerance for risk that it has to business operations. Depending on all of those different things, there is going to be a better fit for moving some applications into public cloud and software as a service, and other scenarios where you just want the infrastructure delivered as a service. Some applications of course must be best kept in-house, but organizations still want some of the efficiencies and underlying technologies delivering cloud, so you might want to look at something like private cloud. Understanding what the best roadmap for moving to the cloud is an area where we are increasingly helping a lot of our customers.

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About Joel Marans

Joel leads our Digital Marketing efforts at Softchoice.