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10 IT-related predictions for 2011

Nancy Weil | Dec. 21, 2010
Tablets will abound, long-rumored mergers will happen, real cyberwarfare will occur and perhaps a major CEO will exit

SAP is also reeling from a US$1.3 billion verdict for corporate theft against Oracle, so its reputation is damaged and its online efforts are struggling.

Enterprises get flashy

We agree with Barry Eggers, managing director at Lightspeed Venture Partners, that the biggest trend that scarcely anyone knows about just yet will lead to a huge year for the use of flash memory in the enterprise. The reasons are simple, as Eggers notes: "Flash memory is 100 times faster than rotating disks. It's also more expensive, but the cost is getting down to where it's not really that much more expensive for 100 times faster." He foresees a $1 billion dollar market in the next couple of years, driven by insatiable data-center needs.

WikiLeaks goes on

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange will have a rugged year of legal travails in Sweden, where he is wanted for investigation of sex-crime allegations. In the U.S., the Department of Justice will spend a lot of time and money pursuing possible charges against him related to WikiLeaks' publication of stolen U.S. Department of State documents. He will not, however, be charged -- this time. He will continue to achieve rock-star status in some quarters and be held in great contempt in others. Those inclined to provide WikiLeaks with government and corporate secret documents will continue undeterred.

Cyberwarfare becomes reality

Real cyberwarfare will occur (in fact, there are growing signs as the year closes that it already is occurring), with Iran's nuclear plant at Bushehr hobbled. Industrial and infrastructure systems will also prove susceptible to cyber-espionage, moving toward fulfilling analyst firm Gartner's prediction that "by 2015, a G20 nation's critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage."

A few words on the cloud

IDC forecasts a 30 percent rise year-over-year in 2011 in spending on public IT cloud services as more business applications are moved to the cloud.

We think that John Vrionis, a principal at Lightspeed, is spot on with his prediction that startups will emerge as important players in the ongoing migration of data to the cloud, addressing security, performance and reliability issues that have been roadblocks. "You've got to keep this stuff around," he says of data such as archived e-mail and other information that has to be kept for regulatory purposes or because you never know when you might need to dig up some old piece of data. "The cloud is really the perfect place because it's so cheap. You know, it would be great if you could keep your junk in someone else's garage."

The cloud will also fuel an explosion of connectivity, because it lets vendors turn isolated products into connected products. Think of all the years we've been hearing about the "connected home" and smart appliances, such as refrigerators that monitor contents and add items to a virtual grocery list kept on your phone. That day is coming.


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