Gartner: 10 IT Trends That Need Your Attention Now

Data continues to multiply, cutting energy consumption strips out data center costs and consumer-focused technology is pushing its way into the enterprise.

Those are just a few of the IT trends CIOs of midsize companies need to have on their radar now, said David Cappuccio, managing vice president of Gartner, during his general session presentation at the Midsize Enterprise Summit Sunday in Miami. The event is run by Everything Channel, the parent company of

"Some of these are happening now, and some are going to happen, but they're already impacting IT now," Cappuccio told some 300 CIOs attending this week's event. "If you don't pay attention to all of them, you will get blindsided."

For VARs and integrators, the list represents a number of opportunities to get in front of technology issues their customers will be grappling with over the next few years.

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Mike Hall, director of information systems at Bowling Green Municipal Utilities in Bowling Green, Ky., said his outfit is now vetting technologies such as virtualization, unified communications and cloud computing.

"We were looking at maybe doing e-mail in the cloud, but our consultant recommended against it. But I hadn't thought about an internal cloud. I liked the idea," Hall said, after attending the session.

Gorton's is exploring options around unified communications, focusing on Microsoft, said Richard Ferrara, director of information technology at the Gloucester, Mass.-based seafood company.

"We're working to understand what it is, what [technologies] we will try to unify and whether different vendors will work well together," Ferrara said.

Here's a closer look at the 10 trends Cappuccio identified:

1. Virtualization: Many servers are underutilized, and they use lots of power just by being turned on. In one recent study, a client with 1,800 physical servers expected to cut its energy bill by nearly 80 percent over four years by implementing virtualization, he said.

2. Data Deluge: "We're all good at managing structured data; it's unstructured data that's a pain," Cappuccio said. That's a problem given Gartner's prediction that enterprise data will grow at a rate of 650 percent in five years, and that 80 percent of that data will be unstructured.

NEXT: Mobility, Mash-ups And Cloud Computing

3. Energy And Green IT: Reluctant CIOs, consider this: "Green is about money, not about the environment," Cappuccio said, adding that CIOs increasingly will be called on to improve the efficiency of their data centers.

4. Consumerization And Social Networks: Consumers drive technology. Have doubts? Consider the rate at which businesses have adopted cell phones, wireless networking and instant messaging, all technologies that business users first embraced at home. Younger employees will use social networking tools to conduct business, whether IT departments like it or not.

5. Unified Communications: The merging of technologies such as e-mail, VoIP, mobility, text messaging, IM and presence brings major productivity improvements.

6. Complex Resource Tracking: Tools that track IT energy usage and make changes automatically based on workloads can help reduce energy usage by up to 40 percent. Cappuccio's advice? "Get to know the facilities guys."

7. Mobility And Wireless: "Ten years ago, if I said you'd be checking e-mail at 10 o'clock at night, you'd have thought I was drinking something," Cappuccio said of the proliferation of BlackBerries and smartphones.

8. System Density: Servers will get more dense and will increase in functionality. Meanwhile, energy costs per year currently exceed $105,000 for a single rack of servers.

9. Mash-ups And Enterprise Portals: Creative workers are building their own mash-ups without IT's knowledge or consent.

10. Cloud Computing: E-mail is the best starting place for Internet-based services, but other specialty services will follow, albeit at higher prices, Cappuccio said.