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IT Directions in 2013—Where are the New Practice Areas

Alan Radding, Guest Blogger

(A book is the best way to build a consulting practice: ask about ghostwriting your book)

The end of the year stimulates consulting firms to make predictions for IT in the coming year. Accenture (UK/Ireland) made more detail predictions than most. Capgemini blogged 3 cloud predictions for 2013. Deloitte presented its trends, one of the few including security in the list.

Of course, the big research players with large teams of analysts weigh in each year. Find Gartner’s top 10 predictions here. You might note what they say about personal clouds. Forrester’s cloud predictions for 2013 are here. You might want to check what they say on getting real about cloud costs.  Symantec makes some interesting 2013 predictions here, particularly about software-defined data centers, a term you’ll starting hearing a lot more. Let’s look more closely at some of the predictions.

Symantec calls the software-defined data center the new buzzword. A nascent buzzword at this point for sure. This blogger thinks of it as software-defined everything. Software-defined data centers, networks, and anything else are really about virtualization taken to its extreme. Expect more of it.

This is what Symantec says: “Software defined data centers will take on cloud computing to become the new industry buzz word. Most large enterprise data centers will evolve to software-defined data centers where IT services are separated and not dependent on the underlying hardware. Commodity hardware, appliances and cloud will become increasing reliant on smart software that will define and drive the future of data center computing.” Symantec doesn’t talk about cost but it probably won’t save money. Rather, it will deliver greater agility, flexibility, and responsiveness to business and technology change.

Gartner is bullish on mobile phones. By 2013, it predicts mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide; by 2015 over 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones. In early 2010 this blogger wrote that your next PC might be a smartphone and took a lot of flak for it.

More interesting is Gartner’s idea of the personal cloud gradually replacing the PC as the location where individuals keep their personal content, access their services and personal preferences, and center their digital lives. The personal cloud, Gartner explains, will entail the unique collection of services, Web destinations and connectivity that will become the home of people’s computing and communication activities. There no platform, form factor, technology or vendor will dominate, and managed diversity and mobile device management will be an imperative. The personal cloud shifts the focus from the client device to cloud-based services delivered across a variety of devices.

Forrester talks about getting real around cloud costs and cloud cost modeling. For two years the research firm has been preaching that the cloud isn’t always cheaper but only cheaper with the right use model, a subtle distinction that consultants could use to build a little practice around. If you want to get the best ROI out of your use of cloud services and platforms, Forrester advises, you need to actively model the cost profile of your applications, monitor their resource use, and adjust accordingly. Forrester isn’t saying cost should solely drive your cloud deployment decisions, only that cost can no longer be ignored or assumed. In 2013, the firm notes, the CFO will wise up to cloud costs and pressure IT about cloud cost management.

None of the prognosticators above, except Deloitte, mentioned anything about security in their 2013 predictions. Don’t take that as a sign to let down your guard.  In fact, here is one security prediction that will become more important in 2013 and beyond: digital forensics will become a critical IT security skill. Might be a good way to expand your IT consulting practice, so too might be brushing up on software-defined everything. Virtualization definitely will live on.




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