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Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 - Part 2

11 Oct 13

Following on from Gartner's announcement yesterday of the top ten technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organisations in 2014, check out the remaining five predictions below.

Presented by analysts during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, the research group defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years.

Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

A strategic technology may be an existing technology that has matured and/or become suitable for a wider range of uses.

It may also be an emerging technology that offers an opportunity for strategic business advantage for early adopters or with potential for significant market disruption in the next five years.

As a consequence, these technologies impact the organisation's long-term plans, programs and initiatives Gartner says.

In the words of Gartner analyst David Cearley, the remaining top ten strategic technology trends for 2014 include:

The Era of Personal Cloud

The personal cloud era will mark a power shift away from devices toward services. In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organisation to worry about, although the devices will still be necessary.

Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role.

Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared from the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.

Software Defined Anything

Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term that encapsulates the growing market momentum for improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning.

As a collective, SDx also incorporates various initiatives like OpenStack, OpenFlow, the Open Compute Project and Open Rack, which share similar visions.

As individual SDx technology silos evolve and consortiums arise, look for emerging standards and bridging capabilities to benefit portfolios, but challenge individual technology suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within their specific domains.

While openness will always be a claimed vendor objective, different interpretations of SDx definitions may be anything but open. Vendors of SDN (network), SDDC (data center), SDS (storage), and SDI (infrastructure) technologies are all trying to maintain leadership in their respective domains, while deploying SDx initiatives to aid market adjacency plays.

So vendors who dominate a sector of the infrastructure may only reluctantly want to abide by standards that have the potential to lower margins and open broader competitive opportunities, even when the consumer will benefit by simplicity, cost reduction and consolidation efficiency.

Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions. Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are re-inventing the way IT in which IT services can be delivered.

Their capabilities go beyond scale in terms of sheer size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility. If enterprises want to keep pace, then they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these exemplary cloud providers.

Gartner calls the combination of all of these elements Web-scale IT. Web-scale IT looks to change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion.

Data centers are designed with an industrial engineering perspective that looks for every opportunity to reduce cost and waste.

This goes beyond re-designing facilities to be more energy efficient to also include in-house design of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks. Web-oriented architectures allows developers to build very flexible and resilient systems that recover from failure more quickly.

Smart Machines

Through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles.

The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. New systems that begin to fulfill some of the earliest visions for what information technologies might accomplish — doing what we thought only people could do and machines could not —are now finally emerging.

Gartner expects individuals will invest in, control and use their own smart machines to become more successful. Enterprises will similarly invest in smart machines.

Consumerisation versus central control tensions will not abate in the era of smart-machine-driven disruption. If anything, smart machines will strengthen the forces of consumerisation after the first surge of enterprise buying commences.

3-D Printing

Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75 percent in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.

While very expensive “additive manufacturing” devices have been around for 20 years, the market for devices ranging from $50,000 to $500, and with commensurate material and build capabilities, is nascent yet growing rapidly.

The consumer market hype has made organisations aware of the fact 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

To read Gartner's other five strategic technology trends for 2014, check back to Techday.com/it-brief for yesterday's article.

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