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The 7 top IT challenges: What they mean for your business in the year ahead

January 2012

Four HP technology experts weigh in on what they see on the enterprise technology horizon for 2012, including cloud, security, innovation and more.

Imagine the money and headaches you’d save if you had a crystal ball that would tell you all the challenges that your IT infrastructure would encounter in 2012. Imagine if you knew when your enterprise would suffer a security breach—yes, when, not if. Or if you knew if a new social media platform would appear that will command even more of your network bandwidth.

We have the next-best thing to a crystal ball—the brains of HP thought-leaders and HP Labs researchers. Below, in their own words, are the 2012 enterprise IT predictions of a select group of HP bloggers and HP Labs researchers. Do their predictions match with yours?

Christian Verstraete, HP Chief Technologist for Cloud Solutions
Enterprises embrace cloud but legacy apps will remain in the data center
Cloud computing will continue to be on the agenda for enterprises. Businesses will move some applications to private or public clouds but legacy applications will stay in the data center. These applications are the fundamental operational backbone of the enterprise―financial software, enterprise resource planning and perhaps HR software.

Businesses spent millions of dollars implementing these core applications and they’re not ready to move them off into the cloud. These applications don’t bring competitive advantage to enterprises anymore. Competitive advantage today is defined by how quickly businesses can develop new and innovative products. And that’s where cloud computing can help.

Internal IT to evolve to cloud governance
As enterprises move into the cloud, the CIO’s agenda will move to cloud governance. They will need to establish a dialog with the business and agree on how internal IT needs to evolve in order to continue serving the business. If the CIO doesn’t do that he or she will be confronted by shadow IT―business units that bypass internal IT to buy services from public cloud providers. And that opens up other issues, such as whether the security levels of public cloud providers match your enterprise security policies.

Steve Simske, HP Fellow and Director HP Labs
Documents will be secured through encryption
2012 will be the year security hits the mainstream. No longer will enterprise security be something that’s patched with one of the popular security packages. Enterprises will build a secured infrastructure from the ground up. The drivers will be cloud computing and the next-generation Internet protocol, IPv6.

The boundaries between access rights will disappear. Folks will be looking to roll out within the organization substantial public key infrastructures (PKIs) and identity-based encryption. It can be a huge security risk storing documents in the clear—unless full encryption is used throughout. By protecting it, you are protecting your reputation and your brand.

My team built APEX―Automated Policy Enforcement eXchange—which enforces security policies in document workflows. Rights to the content are accessed through PKI or ID-based encryption. APEX helps to maintain up-to-date storage and policies throughout the document workflow.

Partha Ranganathan, Fellow, HP Labs and Paolo Faraboschi, Distinguished Technologist, HP Labs
Mobile low-power processors to be used inside data center servers
2012 will see some presence of low-power processors (e.g., ARM, Atom) in the enterprise in both software and hardware. These low-power processors will enable a new category of servers that will complement traditional server offerings, providing more energy efficiency.

They will be used in servers for I/O-intensive applications that don’t require computational resources. Such applications could be for processing status updates in social networks or for data mining. They are less suited to high-computational applications, such as intense number-crunching applications.

These processors will be used inside blades with new form factors (micro-blades) and consume one-tenth of the power of existing blade servers. The processors will also change the notion of a server blade. Micro-blades won’t look like existing server blade infrastructures. The granularity of individual servers will change.

Low-power processor technology enables denser objects. A 1U or 2U half-tray blade could hold tens or even hundreds of server nodes or processors. Because low-power processors are lower in cost than traditional server processors you can get many more server nodes on a blade. The number of user threads or sessions supported by each blade will increase in order of magnitude.

Flash to speed up data-intensive workloads
2012 will be a watershed year for the increased adoption of non-volatile memory. We’ll start to see Flash-based products in the data center as an additional layer in the storage hierarchy.

Anytime you operate large amounts of data you’re limited by your ability to move it. In data mining, you go through the large amounts of data and ask it a bunch of questions. Your performance is limited by how fast you can access that data. Flash memory gives you faster access. Instead of accessing the data directly on the disk, which can be slow, you cache that data to the Flash layer. The storage hierarchy would be cache, memory, Flash and then disk.

Flash holds more memory (about 10-times more capacity) and is faster than disk (up to 100- to 1,000-times faster than disk). 

Charlie Bess, HP Fellow, Office of Strategy and Technology at HP Labs, Services
Significant advancement in memory-based storage
During 2012, our current perspective on the cost, value and capability of memory-based storage will be turned inside out. This will affect everything from our view of standalone storage to cloud computing. This will enable applications of data gathering, analytics and value generation that were not practical before. [Read more about HP Labs’ research into Memristors, a replacement for memory chips.]

More insights through sensing innovations
By the end of 2012 there will be radically innovative applications in sensing that will disrupt the gathering of information across many industries. These applications will provide insight into process manufacturing, environmental issues and product life cycle management. The innovations will come from the nanotechnology and micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMs) space. [Read more about HP Central Nervous System for the Earth (CeNSE), a breakthrough innovation from HP Labs that could make people and businesses safer, more secure and more efficient.]

The world of abundance enabled by sensing, networking and computing advances as well as user devices will shift our view of user interfaces, analytics and what is required to effectively enable decision making in business.

Although these may not all hit consumer volumes in 2012, they will all be demonstrated and shift our thinking of the future.

For more information
FAQ: HP Memristor
The Next Big Thing blog
HP Central Nervous System for the Earth

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