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Cloud Computing, iSlate & Social Networking

It was last year's undoubted buzz word - but cloud computing is here to stay

Firstly, and rather belatedly, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you - hopefully your festive break was enjoyable and are now suitably refreshed and ready to face the challenges and opportunities that will arise through 2010.

It's traditional (and never let it be said that were suffer from originality) at this time of year to dust down the crystal ball, gaze longingly into one's naval and predict what topics will dominate the news over the next 12 months. After much deliberation we are pleased to bring you our totally chartastic top 5.

1.       Cloud Computing

It was last year's undoubted buzz word - but cloud computing is here to stay. Server efficiency, speed to market, instant test platforms, less capital expenditure, on demand resource are some of the oft quoted compelling reasons for switching to cloud computing and all of them will deliver quantifiable financial benefits. The key challenge for businesses in 2010 will not be to determine whether cloud computing is a viable technology but rather how can they derive benefit within their own organisations - full outsource, partial/hybrid solution? The managed hosting industry, on the other hand, will work hard during 2010 to allay the nagging doubts that exist around the Cloud's downtime and security issues. The next big cloud product offering from the hosting providers? Consultancy.

2.       iSlate, iGuide, iCaptain, iWash or whatever Apple name their new tablet

According to every tech website on the planet, Apple plans to demonstrate its touchscreen tablet later this month (January 26th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco - apparently). With the iPhone and iPod having just about picked up every gong going for gadget(s) of the noughties, it seems probable that this hotly awaited release will be the product of the 2010s. Well informed sources have hinted that the tablet will measure approximately 11 inches (diagonally), will run the iPhone operating system but with a resolution 5-6 times greater, and 7 times the touchable surface area. A 3G networking version will be available.

If, and it's a BIG IF, Apple have managed to overcome the tablet's Achilles Heel - battery length - then we confidently predict that 2010 will truly herald the mobile computing age.

3.       Green IT

With the last decade ending with Copenhagen Climate Change conference and the world's attention focused on all things green, it is hardly surprising we've included this prediction as a key IT topic for 2010. The topic of green IT is so vast, including everything from electricity usage reduction, lower carbon footprints, component recycling to employees cycling to work. As such may organisations, faced with the green IT challenge have struggled with the key question of where to start? and have therefore reacted by sticking the ‘corporate heads in the sand' in the hope that the tree huggers will all go away and concentrate on saving the rain forests. Well it's not going to happen. A combination of Government legislation and rinsing energy bills will focus accountants' minds on the green issue during 2010. Data centres account for the bulk of the energy costs in corporate networks and careful planning, either through outsourcing or applying greener principles in internal IT architectures, will result in reduced business costs. Implementing green practises is a long haul project but it is one that will benefit businesses this decade.

4.       Social Networking for business

Do you remember when MSN and AOL chat were the preserve of the trendy and the young? It was only a few short years ago that businesses did their utmost to prevent employees from using these non compliant tools on their networks, citing everything from security breaches to staff productivity issues in an attempt to outlaw them. Today the use of messenger as a communication tool is common place within organisations - heck we even invite customers to chat online with us! Five years further on and we are now facing a similar scenario with social networking such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. A real case of déjà vu: we use this stuff at home, bring it in to work with us and someone in risk management then has to figure out what to do with it, set some policies around its use and then find a way to manage it. Social networking is here to stay. The problem that business now faces is how to quantify its benefits:  Revenue generating? Customer Interaction? Brand building? SEO enhancement? 2010 will be the year that social networks are given the shakedown, formally placed on the corporate agenda and answers found.

5.       On Demand TV

Back in 2002, when iomart was leading the UK market in broadband services, I remember organising a meeting which included a live demonstration, with a Korean company who had developed an internet TV box. The device allowed over 100 channels to be streamed via the net to the set and the user was offered a range of interactive feature to enhance their viewing experience. For example you could place live bets on the racing channel, interact in real time with shopping channels or create video playlists yada yada. In this brave new world of TV, advertisers would be able to sponsor specific channels and programmes and push interactive ads to you whenever they felt it appropriate. The big barrier to adoption back then, apart  from the obvious rights issues, was the totally inadequate broadband speeds available to enable a quality viewing experience (these were the days when you needed a bank loan for a 1 Mb connection). Fast forward 8 years and we're now predicting that On Demand TV will become a reality with the advent of Project Canvas. Project Canvas is the IPTV venture backed by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and TalkTalk and surprise, surprise it is basically the same set up - a set top box with an internet connection - which we witnessed back in our Board room in 2002. Who said technology moved at a blistering pace...

So there we have it, our 5 pick of the IT pops for 2010. Date for the diary - January 2011 - come back and see whether we've the prediction making skills of Mystic Meg or Michael Fish.

And now for our top 5 non IT related predictions:

1.       Applications flood in for airport security staff positions as the Government declares that ‘patting down' body searches will now involve a hand down the Y-Fronts to check for ‘suspicious powders' (cheese being the #1...probably)

2.       Dance troupe Diversity perform at one major party conference as UK political parties prove their ‘getting down wiv da yoof' credentials

3.       Matt Smith ("I'm not a girl. I'm still not ginger...") is declared the best Doctor since....well...the last one

4.       Britain's Got Talent will be won by a 46 year old spinster from Nuneaton who can dance like Gene Kelly

5.       Jermaine Beckford scores on his England debut against the USA

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More Stories By Phil Worms

Phil is a 30 year IT industry veteran with a passion for education and has personally led many school and higher education initiatives designed to engage young people and showcase the broad range of exciting and fulfilling roles in IT.

A full and varied career has seen Phil move through various senior product/project and marketing positions with companies as diverse as Centrica plc, One.Tel, VarTec Telecom and iomart Group plc. Phil is working on a project to create an intergenerational social hub that will celebrate creativity and achievement in Helensburgh, birthplace of television pioneer John Logie Baird.The Heroes Centre will provide people of all ages with the new media and content creation skills required to engage fully in the digital world. Follow his progress on Twitter and on Facebook

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