As we usher in 2012, it is important to reflect on the year gone by. I am sure most IT decision makers would look back at 2011 with mixed feelings. It was a year when the going got tough and tough didn’t really get going. It will probably be written in the annals of IT history as a year when most of them had to deal with harsh economic realities and at the same time spur innovation and business growth on flat or contracted budgets. Doing more with less became a true Zen habit for CIOs and made the difference between survival and going belly up. Will this new year be a tight rope walk again? I am inclined to think we will reap what we have sown, and the signs are indeed promising. The worse is probably over and the only way is up. So what is going to make 2012 tick? Honouring the venerable new year tradition of crystal-ball gazing, I am going to stick my neck out and spell out my prophecies, in no particular order.
Cloud: Whether you like it or not, this is going to be the year of the cloud. Having reached a crescendo in terms of hype, the dust is finally settling in and we have a more realistic view from the trenches now. We are going to see a major surge in private cloud build-out and the momentum is already phenomenal behind the OpenStack, a vibrant and fast-growing open source project for creating private cloud. Will public cloud really take off in the Middle East? The jury is still out on that, thanks to issues ranging from regulatory to cultural in the region. However, it’s a rising tide and I do think most companies will ride the crest of that wave, because the payback is too big to ignore. But, will it be a promised panacea for all your IT ills? Not likely, if you expect all your IT complexity to disappear magically just because you moved your data centre into a public cloud.
Virtualisation: Server virtualisation is already pretty pervasive in the Middle East and that trend is going to accelerate further, while this could be the year of virtual desktops. The technology had many false starts, and never really took off because it was cost-prohibitive and vendors failed to demonstrate the underlying value-proposition. As the cost of implementing VDI has started to drop, most businesses will seriously consider desktop virtualisation and Citrix has made a bold claim that it will make it deploying desktop virtualisation cheaper than of a traditional desktop. That might just trigger serious adoption.
Mobility: Experts have already earmarked 2012 as the year of mobility. With smartphones, tablets selling like hotcakes, it would be fairly safe to assume the trend of mobile computing is going to continue unabated. You already have tablets armed with quad-core processors, which will show up in smartphones this year. With vendors trying to outdo each other in the hardware department, and operating systems getting better and more robust, smartphone might emerge as your primary computing device sooner than later.