Top 10 Technology Trends

Gartner Inc., the Stamford, Conn., market research firm, has identified the top 10 technologies and trends that it says will be strategic for most organizations.

While some of these don’t seem to directly impact plant operations, they will increasingly affect plants as companies move further to blend information technology (IT) and plant automation. “Companies should factor these technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions, and make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” says David Cearley, vice president and analyst at Gartner.

1 Green IT. Gartner notes that green IT came to the forefront in 2007, and is expected to accelerate and expand in 2008. Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building plants and data centers as they impact power grids and carbon emissions.

2 Unified communications. Today, just 20 percent of the installed base with private branch exchange, or PBX, technology has migrated to Internet protocol, or IP, telephony. But more than 80 percent of the remainder are already doing trials of some form. Gartner expects the majority of companies to implement IP telephony in the next three years.

3 Business process modeling. Gartner sees a move to service oriented architecture (SOA) for top-level services. Business process management suites will also fill a critical role as a complement to SOA.

4 Metadata management. Through 2010, companies will implement customer data integration, product integration and product information management as part of an overall enterprise information management strategy.

5 Virtualization 2.0. Virtualization technologies can increase the flexibility needed to adapt to changing requirements and workloads. With the addition of automation technologies, resource efficiency can improve dramatically, and flexibility can become automatic.

6 Mashup and composite applications. By 2010, Web mashup—or Web applications that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool—will be the dominant model (80 percent) for the creation of composite enterprise applications. Mashup technologies will evolve significantly over the next five years.

7 Web platform and Web-oriented Architecture (WOA). Web platforms are emerging that provide service-based access to infrastructure services, information, applications and business processes through Web-based “cloud computing” environments.

8 Computing fabric. A computing fabric is the evolution of service design beyond the interim stage blade servers that now exist. The next step is the introduction of technology that allows several blades to be merged operationally over the fabric, operating as a larger, single-system image that is the sum of the components of those blades.

9 Real-world Web. The term “real-world Web” is informal, referring to places where information from the Web is applied to the particular location activity or context in the real world. For example, in navigation, a printed list of directions from the Web does not react to changes, but a GPS navigation unit provides real-time directions that react to events and movements.

10 Social software. Through 2010, the enterprise Web 2.0 product environment will experience considerable flux, with continued product innovation and new entrants, including start-ups, large vendors and traditional collaboration vendors. Expect significant consolidation, as competitors strive to deliver robust Web 2.0 offers to the enterprise.

To view the Feature Article, "Blending Plant Operations with Enterprise Management", go to www.automationworld.com/view-4149.
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