2009 Will be a Year of Change, Challenge and Opportunity for Data Center Managers

The old maxim, "may you live in interesting times" certainly holds true for data 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. Here, we offer a snapshot of some of the key trends industry executives foresee.

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," according to 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."

Green IT Will Meet the Cloud: "Cloud computing can help organizations of all sizes go green by providing a shared infrastructure with virtualization capabilities," says 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."

Clouds and Grids Will Converge: "We believe that 2009 will be the year that cloud and grid computing become practical," says 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."

More 'Silver Linings' Will Emerge from Tough Economic Conditions: Jim Swartz, CIO of Sybase, says that the turbulent economy will drive greater IT-business alignment. "Many organizations have already begun to cut their bottom line by transitioning to a green data center," he points out. "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."

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," says Steven B. Adler, program director for IBM Data Governance Solutions and chairman of the IBM Data Governance Council.

Virtualization Will Mature as an Enterprise Approach: Virtualization is reaching maturity this year, presenting new capabilities and new challenges. Luc Blanchet, director of software and support services for Amadeus, says that his company is moving from the test stage to the mission-critical production stage for virtualization. "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."

More 'Baking In' of Virtualization into Enterprise IT Planning: Andrew Hillier, CTO and co-founder of CiRBA, cautions 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."

More Concern About Virtualization Security: Along with increased virtualization will come concerns about associated security practices. Chris Whitener, chief strategist for HP Secure Advantage, points out that "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."

Economy Will Drive More Open Source:
Tough economic times make it more difficult to raise funding for new systems, and open source solutions will be more attractive than ever as an initial low-cost alternative. "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," says Doug Harr, CIO of Ingres Corp. "Bad economic times can be a perfect time to swap out old investments for new."

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."