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Issue of November 2005 

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Large Enterprise Forum

Keynote Address

The technology it’s a changin!

Bob Hayward, Senior Vice-president, Asia Pacific & Japan, Gartner, spoke to Akhtar Pasha on the trends that will change enterprise IT in 2005—and beyond

According to Bob Hayward, Senior Vice-president at Gartner, “Information security investments are never-ending. We continue to see major investments.” He says that there is a wide range of products under the security umbrella that will be consolidated into suites, creating a security platform from which the applications will run. The same has already been witnessed with the emergence of integrated security appliances that have become a huge hit even in India. The appliances have the capability to perform network firewalling, network intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS), and gateway antivirus (AV) functions. By 2006, Hayward says we will have seen a substantial move towards prevention of security compromises, rather than detection, which is the aspect we concentrate on currently.

Hot Technologies

What’s hot: IP telephony, discrete sourcing to third-party service providers, business intelligence, electronic content management, open source (going mainstream), vertical applications such as treasury & wealth applications, and risk and lending applications. About IP telephony Hayward comments, “This is another technology that has been around for a while. Its time has come.” IT telephony is not proven in India because it requires expensive power supply for the equipment (IP PBX, IP phones and accessories, UPS, generators), while telecom charges are the lowest in the entire Asia Pacific. But consider IP telephony in countries such as Australia where telecom costs are higher and it makes a perfect business proposition. According to Hayward, while organisations with more than 2,000 phones must think hard about the implications of switching from a digital PBX to IP telephony, the choice for smaller companies is obvious.

Technologies In The Pilot Stage

Hayward points out that mobility, sensors, tags, location-sensing devices, collaboration using blogs/IM/Wikis and wireless broadband are in great demand. He says that IM has failed to achieve widespread corporate adoption despite overwhelming public appeal. IM had been shown to cut down e-mail use and avoid what Hayward terms ‘rewind’ e-mail, which are from colleagues responding with solutions to problems that have been solved hours earlier. IM also reduces the annoyance of phone-tag, or time wasted on the phone for corporate chit-chat. “This technology fits into the concept of the real-time enterprise, and has the advantage of offering presence management because you can see whether someone is at their computer by their status on the buddy list.” He says there is a tremendous amount of activity vis-à-vis pilots being conducted by Indian enterprises in the area of RFID and location-sensing.

Cool Technologies

Core business applications, utility computing, Linux on desktop, grid computing, biometrics, doing everything offshore and mid-range servers are referred to by Gartner as cool technologies because there is lot of demand at present. However, Hayward describes utility computing and grid computing as ‘struggling technologies.’

Why the tag? He thinks utility computing is struggling on account of three key factors. First, Hayward says, “There is a lot of confusion about this technology. It means different things to different people, and there is no clear definition. IBM calls it on-demand computing, Sun calls it grid computing, HP calls it adaptive computing. Second, organisations are still suspicious of using it in the enterprise domain as they do not know the quality of service. Third, the pricing model is currently high and it is not attractive enough.”

Utility computing is fine, but do we have application on-demand or application as a utility model? Says Hayward, “Computing resources are available on pay-per-use, but we do not have applications based on the same model.” Mid-range servers are emerging as they offer organisations the opportunity to consolidate their servers with the scale-out and scale-in option. This increases server utilisation and thereby keeps the TCO low.

Notwithstanding this, Hayward agrees that it is just a matter of time before the technology takes off.

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