THE 15 TOP Information Management Trends for 2009

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The old maxim, "may you live in interesting times" certainly holds true for IT managers and professionals these days. The year 2008 was full of changes and challenges, and 2009 promises even more. To look ahead on the challenges emerging, we canvassed industry leaders across the IT landscape to get their views on what to expect in the year ahead.

1. More Urgent Calls for Data Governance

"The current financial crisis has underscored the need for improved data governance, better transparency and the need to more accurately calculate risk. Data governance will emerge as a required discipline for organizations, giving rise to greater trust," said Steven B. Adler, program director for IBM Data Governance Solutions and chairman of the IBM Data Governance Council.

2. Rise of the Well-Managed ‘Intra-Cloud'

"Ultimately, the ideal mix for larger enterprises may be to have a combination of both public and private clouds, which will allow enterprises control over their critical resources and private data while simultaneously enabling the scalability and efficiency inherent in cloud computing," said Brian Ott, vice president and CTO of systems and technology for Unisys. "Right now, cloud computing is much more geared toward consumer and retail applications, but we're starting to see a shift toward the enterprise cloud or, as some people call it, an intra-cloud."

3. Companies Will Be Challenged With Cloud Data Integration

"On-premise data storage, from centralized data warehouses to content management systems to desktop spreadsheets, will continue to be pervasive for the foreseeable future. As a result, most SaaS applications will need to be integrated with on-premises applications," said Mike Pittaro, co-founder of Snaplogic. "Short timeframes and limited budgets will make effective integration a requirement, while uncertainty about future plans and vendors will require adaptable integration solutions."

 4. Green IT Will Meet the Cloud

"Cloud computing can help organizations of all sizes go green by providing a shared infrastructure with virtualization capabilities," said David McQueeney, vice president of technology and strategy for IBM Software Group. "By leveraging shared infrastructure to deploy and balance IT resources for computing tasks in real-time, enterprises can significantly reduce their carbon footprints while freeing up IT resources and decreasing infrastructure operating and maintenance costs."

5. Clouds and Grids Will Converge

"We believe that 2009 will be the year that cloud and grid computing become practical," said Gerry Libertelli, CEO, ReadyTechs. "Companies will realize that they can create entire replicas of their internal networks in a co-located, remote cloud; drastically reducing the cost of building and maintaining a disaster recovery site. They scale their systems by being able to incrementally add processing power over time-creating their own unique upgrade path, independent of the hardware vendors."

 6. Greater Push for Business Intelligence and Performance Management

"BI and PM will continue to drive the state of IT in 2009, especially during these uncertain economic times, as IT continues to partner with the business to address the growing demand for more personalized, relevant information," said Rob Ashe, general manager of business intelligence and performance management for Cognos, an IBM Company. "The insights gleaned will enable organizations to make the leap from ‘data-rich/information poor' to truly capitalize on its collective intelligence for sustainable competitive advantage."

7. Rise of Master Data Management for Enterprise Environments and Applications

"As I look into the crystal ball and try to see what 2009 will hold for data integration, it's all about how it fits into enterprise data consolidation efforts like master data management (MDM)," said Tony Fisher, CEO of DataFlux. "The amount of data that organizations are currently facing is staggering, and that is only going to continue to increase," he said. "While data integration is an important part of their data strategy, I see it becoming more closely aligned with data quality and MDM environments." Carl Lehmann, senior vice president of strategy for Advanced Data Exchange, agreed, adding that "Vendors such as SAP have made great strides with a MDM strategy and technology architecture to improve data quality and facilitate cross-functional process flows within a company and across a supply chain."

8. The Economy Injects Uncertainty Into 2009 Plans

"There's a real possibility that the current uncertain economy may affect data center initiatives in unexpected ways," said Pam Taylor, president of SHARE, the IBM users group. "Focus on expense management may become the driver to accelerate initiatives to reduce power costs and recover stranded capacity in deployed infrastructure, leading to more total enterprise virtualization and green data centers. At the same time, the heightened need for competitive differentiation in a tight economy will likely emphasize the need for IT agility, accelerating projects to deploy broader service orientation and to utilize alternative models such as cloud computing or SaaS resources."

Jim Swartz, CIO of Sybase, sees a silver lining to the turbulent economy and that is in greater IT-business alignment. "Many organizations have already begun to cut their bottom line by transitioning to a green data center," he said. "In 2009, enterprises can reduce business costs even further by streamlining both IT and business practices. To do so, the task at hand is two-fold: Understand overall needs from business units across the enterprise and identify any overlap, and align IT infrastructure to meet business process and data storage needs."

9. Economy Will Drive More Open Source

"On the whole, too few CIOs have made the switch to open source and SaaS-based sourcing strategies. This period of economic uncertainty should change all that," said Doug Harr, CIO of Ingres Corp."Bad economic times can be a perfect time to swap out old investments for new."

10. Virtualization Will Mature to ‘Grade Two'

"Virtualization will reach maturity in 2009," said Luc Blanchet, director of software and support services for Amadeus. "For the really large data centers, like the one we run at Amadeus, virtualization still has only been running in test environments. We are now comfortable that we can begin to introduce virtualization technology into our production environment. This is partly because of advances in virtualization products, but mostly because we now feel we have spent sufficient time working with the technology to understand how to achieve the resource and efficiency benefits it offers in a robust and secure way."

Andrew Hillier, CTO and co-founder of CiRBA, added that virtualization will add complexity to systems decisions. "As virtualization enters ‘grade two,' there will be a lot more homework, there will be fewer games where everyone is a winner, and there will be a lot more people reading the report cards," he said. "This will underscore the need for quantitative ways of evaluating options, understanding the decisions, and the days of simply cutting a PO to the ‘default vendor' will be gone. This trend will be compounded by economic uncertainty, which will cause a high priority to be placed on exploiting proven cost-cutting measures. Ultimately, virtualization planning will become a much more rigorous process."

11. Virtualization Will Meet Application Management

"Throughout 2009, virtualization will continue to be disruptive and impact IT management in numerous ways," said Vic Nyman, co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software. "Managing business applications will continue to be a challenge as virtualization makes it more dynamic-with pieces of applications and services using a variety of resources. Application management will stress relations between the application owners, those responsible for keeping applications available and performing well and secure, and the VM administrators who are pushing to convert more servers, including those with business-critical applications running on them."

12. More Concern About Virtualization Security

"The explosive growth of technologies such as virtualization and Web applications is resulting in the need for security practices, policies and solutions that extend further than ever in order to protect assets and ensure compliance," said Chris Whitener, chief strategist for HP Secure Advantage. "Organizations should select a virtualization technology that provides strong security isolation between ‘guest OS' instances if needed. Additionally, while deploying workloads on virtualized platforms increases mobility, flexibility and agility, this does not mean that the physical infrastructure can be ignored."

13. The Rise of Data ‘Visualization'

"The visual presentation of analytics will become increasingly pervasive in 2009, because it can help business users see patterns that might otherwise remain hidden," said Tammi Kay George, business analytics strategist for SAS. "Visualization technology has advanced to the point that even analysis against large data sets can be distilled into a picture that lets trends and relationships ‘jump out' to the data explorer."

14. More Service Orienting of BI Applications

"2009 will be the year CEOs and CFOs discover that IT data architectures are disproportionately invested in supporting under-utilized BI and enterprise application software, and under-invested in the long tail of custom applications and sophisticated spreadsheets that line of business professionals actually use," said Roger Oberg, vice president of product strategy for TIBCO Spotfire at TIBCO Software. "The inaccuracy, insecurity, and lack of scalability of this long tail will continue to expose organizations to unacceptable risks and shift investment to more contemporary SOA application infrastructures."

15. Developer and DBA Worlds Will Collide

"The worlds of the application developer and database professional have always been intertwined, given the tight dependency of wiring applications to database infrastructures, but we will see the two roles converge in 2009 more than ever before," said Greg Keller, chief evangelist, DatabaseGear Products, Embarcadero. "In the coming year, nearly every traditional developer will be taking on more of the underlying database work, particularly with the proliferation of Java Enterprise, Ruby on Rails and other database-dependent frameworks that require a deeper knowledge of databases," he said. "Likewise, the role of database professionals, especially those responsible for architecture, will require more development activities, most specifically XML-related, with the emergence of application integration and service-oriented architecture projects."