Living in interesting times


I was at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo this week and was impressed by the breadth of the IT topics covered as well as the number of attendees--more than 8,000 geeks (including me) fascinated by mainframe migration, x86 server virtualization infrastructure and other arcane IT topics.

True to its theme, the panels, discussions and keynotes this week focused on the four forces--cloud computing, mobile technology, big data and social media--transforming enterprise communications.

The "Internet of Everything"

A highlight of the conference was the discussion with John Chambers, chairman and chief executive officer of Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Chambers laid out his vision that the "Internet of Everything" will become the IT platform of the future. "Over the next five years, IT will be so deeply embedded in every business process regardless of industry you won't recognize the difference between business models and IT," he told a packed house at the Gartner powwow.

This certainly is a bold prediction, something Chambers is known for. However, his timetable might be a bit aggressive. With many companies still using legacy telecom systems, the transition will be bumpy.

As noted in FierceEnterpriseCommunications' feature article on SIP trunking, interoperability of IP-based systems and legacy systems could hold up SIP trunking deployment for years.

Big data means big jobs growth

At the opening keynote on Monday, Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's senior vice president of research, predicted that spending on big data will fuel a 3.8 percent increase in worldwide IT spending in 2013, surpassing $3.7 trillion next year.

"By 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data, generating 1.9 million IT jobs in the United States," Sondergaard predicted.

Big data certainly is a hot topic these days. In fact, FierceMarkets recently launched a publication devoted solely to the topic.The big challenge for enterprises is processing all that data and making it useful for decisions. That could take a lot of time and investment.

Cloud services to expand

In his presentation, Sondergaard observed that the cloud is the "carrier" of the other forces. "Mobile is personal cloud, social media is only possible via the cloud and big data is the killer app for the cloud," he said.

Cloud has enormous potential, but it also has substantial risks, not the lease of which is data security. Concerns about who will be able to access corporate data, particularly sensitive data, has made IT security teams very nervous about putting sensitive info in the cloud.

In fact, security is one of the top three cloud threats identified by FierceEnterpriseCommunications our Three Major Threats to the Cloud feature published this week. Other threats are usage-based billing, which could drive small and medium-sized business away from cloud, and confusion about who owns the data in the cloud.

Sondergaard also predicted there will be more than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices purchased globally in 2016, adding that two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile and more than 300 billion app downloads will occur annually by 2016.

True unified communications

The most exciting development from an enterprise communications perspective is the coming together of unified communications (UC), the cloud and mobility. A number of Gartner analysts explored that theme in their presentations and discussions.

Tom Wolf with BT told FierceEnterpriseCommunications at the Gartner conference that BT's large companies are asking for cloud-based UC, something he couldn't have predicted 18 months ago. So the shift to the cloud is happening faster than many in the industry were expecting.

Despite data security worries, enterprise mobility is taking off, pushed by employees rather than IT teams. As employees want more access to UC functions through their mobile devices, they will go for a change in UC as well.

While still maturing, cloud-based UC and enterprise mobility are expected to have a profound impact on the way companies communicate in the coming years. We live in interesting times. -Fred