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Big Changes Coming for IT, Says Gartner Analyst

Technology and organizational changes are coming in every area of IT, and they are going to have a profound impact on virtually all of the 11 million IT professionals around the world—and eventually, everyone, everywhere.

That was the very broad brush with which Peter Sondergaard, global head of research at Gartner, launched his conference-opening keynote at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in San Francisco.

“A lot of technology users have given us the impression that the rate of change in information technology might be slowing down,” Sondergaard told his audience. “With mega-issues such as Y2K behind us, and with challenges such as Sarbanes-Oxley and e-business having some sense of being under control, many believe that…there are no real great challenges confronting us… We're here to tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Sondergaard laid out Gartner's predictions of IT industry changes following journalism's classic five W's.

Who will be affected by/involved in these changes? Pretty much everybody, Sondergaard expects. "The impact of IT hasn’t yet become truly pervasive," he said, "but it’s moving that way very fast."

What will these changes be? Here’s Gartner's answer:

  • Hardware: PC and server processors and the operating systems that run on them will no longer be tightly coupled. The new wave of virtualization technologies will not only allow systems to run on the same device, Sondergaard said, but will also permit guest machines to have a locked-down corporate image while the host domain may upgrade and load hardware and software.
  • Software: The mainstream adoption of service-oriented architecture will create a new generation of applications. "We’ll soon reach the point where more than half of all newly created applications will be built from service components that are linked together by business-process definitions," Sondergaard said. "This will cause a huge shift in the balance of resources away form traditional application development on the payrolls of technology user companies."
  • Networking: "Circuit-switching platforms will be replaced by IP-based solutions in homes and offices. The trend is rapidly moving toward local, national and international network services," Sondergaard said. "The result is that you have already bought your last conventional PBX and conventional messaging system."
  • IT Services and Management: Sondergaard predicts "a subtle but significant shift" before the end of this decade, when the default question about outsourcing changes from if to when.

Where will these changes occur? Gartner sees them coming everywhere, with "a contest between legacy users of IT on one side, and those who are emerging from the opportunities made possible in emerging nations around the world."

Why are these changes going to occur? "[T]o foster greater business agility, to promote quick build-up and tear-down of business partnerships, to facilitate adjustment and deployment of resources where needed and to render harmless approaching danger well in advance of that danger’s arrival,” Sondergaard said.

When will these changes occur? Gartner believes this will occur in the next few years. "This is not a story about technologies in a laboratory," Sondergaard said, "nor is it about emerging technology trends... This is something that you need to address now."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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