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12/10/2007
03:36 PM
David Strom
David Strom
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5 Disruptive Technologies To Watch In 2008

It's time for our annual list of hot technologies poised to rise high on industry radar screens in the coming year. Our picks include server-based virtualization, enterprise video, and presence-aware apps.

A new year always brings changes and new challenges for IT managers, and 2008 will be no exception. While there are dozens of emerging technologies that have the potential to disrupt current standards, five that have significant opportunity to lead to major implications for enterprises in the coming year are: virtualization, the role of Apple and managing cross-platform shops, managed data centers, video over IP networks, and presence-aware applications.

What all five have in common is the ability to change the course of your IT plans, rework your network infrastructure, manage your desktops, and alter the way you build and deploy your applications.

Virtualization Now

A lot has happened on the virtualization front in the past 12 months, and this technology will continue to make headlines in 2008. While the overall concept isn't new, it is expanding into just about every nook and cranny of the data center, and is proving to be a very useful tool for a wider array of situations.

Dan Kusnetzky, principal analyst of the Kusnetzky Group, researches multiple kinds of virtualization technologies and tracks dozens of specialized vendors that offer virtual desktops running virtual applications from virtual storage across virtual networks, and even using virtual security. He sees more activity in all of these areas, with new products such as VMware's Fusion that allow virtual machines to run on Mac OS, as well as virtualization built into some of the newer Linux distributions and processing chipsets from Intel and AMD. "[Putting] this much of the overhead of running a virtual machine into hardware makes everything run ever so much faster," said Kusnetzky.

The year past saw companies offering virtual applications, or the ability to load new applications across a network without having to first install them on a user's hard disk. Products in this space from companies such as Thinstall, Appstream, Altiris, and Microsoft are actively improving and adding features.

They have several things going for them: First, the applications are always patched and current so upgrades are trivial; this is particularly appealing for those applications that can expose an enterprise to security issues, such as Web browsers and other Internet connectors. Second, users can work from any Internet-connected computer, such as those at an airport or copy shop. Finally, as an IT shop rolls out new internally developed applications, they can be quickly deployed with centralized access controls only to those users who need to run them.

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