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Gartner's Top 10 IT challenges include exiting baby boomers, Big Data

Virtualization tops the list of IT infrastructure and operations trends because of continuing data center expansion

October 18, 2011 05:29 PM ET

Computerworld - ORLANDO -- In Gartner's list of the top 10 trends in IT infrastructure and operations are multiple threats and opportunities for data center operations.

Among the threats is the exodus of baby boomers and the emergence of a younger generation that's been less loyal to corporate employers and are more likely to move to another job.

Designing a job structure that ensures IT skills and corporate knowledge can survive the workforce transition is but one important challenge for companies, according to David Cappuccio, a Gartner analyst.

Gartner's Top 10 list of IT infrastructure and operations trends, presented today at the research firm's annual Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here, follows:

One: Virtualization continues to expand in the enterprise from servers to desktops. "You do not do desktop virtualization to save money, because you're not going to," Cappuccio said. "You are going to spend more money on your infrastructure," in the form of larger servers, VM licenses, while also continuing to pay for desktop licenses. "But what you gain is total control of the environment."

Two: Big data, patterns and analytics. Data will grow by 800% in five years, with 80% of it unstructured. Part of that is the trend called "the collective," which includes data from groups and communities and social networks outside the business. "Mining the collective has become a very common thing to do, and it's a great way to understand what your marketplace looks like," said Cappuccio.

Three: Energy efficiency and monitoring. There's an emerging market of tools for energy monitoring and efficiency, with more than 25 vendors in this market. These tools monitor consumption at the device level or application level. A savings of just a few percent can make a difference. Gartner estimates that a 25,000 square-foot data center consumes about $4.1 million in energy each year.

Four: Context awareness, which involves, in part, integrating corporate data into social media streams. Put simply, if you're a retailer and a potential customer is using a smartphone, how do you make a connection? "What if I can design an app that is context and content and location aware?" said Cappuccio.

Five: Creating an IT staff structure that can deal with a wave of retirements. Starting this year, an average of 10,000 baby boomers will be eligible to retire every day for the next 19 years in North America, "and a lot of them are IT people," said Cappuccio, people who are taking corporate knowledge with them.

Meanwhile, the new people coming into the workforce "do not have loyalty to the company" and are "loyal to themselves, to what they know, to their peers in many cases, but not the company."

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