7 IT Trends to Watch in 2011 and How to Prepare for Them

A look at the top security, storage, and data center trends facing organizations in the New Year.

By Steve Morton, Vice President of Product Marketing, Symantec

New Technologies, New Challenges

Almost every day a new technology is either announced or brought to market that offers hope of a “better way.” Yet with each release and announcement, the vast and complex technological landscape we all interact with every day becomes even more complicated.

Tech Trend #1: The exponential adoption of smart mobile devices that blur the line between business and personal use will drive new IT security models.

History has shown that as our technologies become smarter and faster, the threats to these technological assets follow suit. For instance, the proliferation of mobile devices (such as the smartphone and tablet) is growing at a record-breaking rate. Analyst firm IDC estimates that by year’s end, new mobile device shipments will have increased by 55 percent. Gartner projects that in the same timeframe, 1.2 billion people will be using mobile phones capable of rich Web connectivity.

Although cybercriminals have shown little interest in mobile devices in the past, as devices grow more sophisticated and as a handful of mobile platforms corner the market, it is inevitable that attackers will target mobile devices in 2011 and that mobile devices will become a leading source of confidential-data loss. Enterprises will gravitate towards adopting a comprehensive mobile security approach to keep safe the sensitive data on and accessible through these devices.

Tech Trend #2: IT wakes up to the need to secure virtual infrastructures.

A similar challenge exists with the widespread adoption of virtualization. Virtualization has been one of the biggest shifts over the last year and will continue to influence IT in 2011. Companies everywhere are achieving the benefits of virtualization by reducing the number of servers in their environments. Although most companies believe the information and applications within their virtual infrastructure are protected, many IT administrators will face the harsh reality that it is not.

The rapid adoption, fragmented implementation, and lack of standardization of virtual infrastructures will continue to expose gaps in the security and backup of virtual environments. According to a new Gartner survey, 67 percent of respondents cited server virtualization as the top technology investment in 2011. Although virtualization decreases server costs, organizations are realizing virtualization is simultaneously increasing management costs, and without a plan to protect these environments, they may not realize the full ROI.

How to Prepare

By understanding the challenges, risks, and threats of the changing technology landscape, organizations can be proactive instead of reactive. A recent study of critical infrastructure providers found that 48 percent of respondents expect a cyberattack in the next year and 80 percent believe the frequency of such attacks is increasing. Given this high level of awareness, we should expect to see providers beefing up their security as well as their backup and recovery, encryption, and storage initiatives in 2011.

Taking Back Control

A new Gartner survey found that handling data growth is the most significant data center challenge for many enterprises. The exponential level of data growth and retention is impeding a company’s ability to effectively manage and recover its data.

Data Trend #1: The new frontier of social media.

Adding to the complexity is the use of social media to improve communication and productivity throughout the enterprise. Although social media will change the way we collaborate in the enterprise in 2011, IT organizations will also need to understand how to protect and manage these non-standard applications for recovery and discovery of business information that is communicated in these outlets.

Data Trend #2: Regain control of information retention.

The writing is on the wall. In 2011, storage administrators must lose their “pack-rat” mentality and categorize what information is most important. Otherwise, storage costs will continue to skyrocket and organizations will face extensive recovery times and be unable to comply with regulatory compliance standards, including privacy laws, and e-discovery.

Data Trend #3: Regulatory compliance will drive adoption of encryption technologies more than it will data breach mitigation.

Additionally, as data goes “mobile” and becomes less centralized, regulators will start cracking down on this issue which will drive organizations to increasingly implement encryption technologies, particularly for mobile devices. In fact, the Ponemon Institute’s 2010 Annual Study: U.S. Enterprise Encryption Trends study revealed that for the first time, regulatory compliance has surpassed data breach mitigation as the top reason why organizations deploy encryption technologies. Organizations are getting ahead of the curve with their encryption strategy by being proactive before the breach occurs, not after. How to Prepare

A variety of methods are being employed by organizations to address the issues arising from the overload of data and all of the requirements related to protecting this information. In 2011, organizations must re-evaluate their retention needs and automate their information management strategy to keep backups for 30 to 60 days, archive for long-term storage, and delete everything else.

Data Center Directions

It is no exaggeration to say that IT has to be smarter than ever about how it spends its money. As organizations continue to manage with limited resources in 2011, while facing more intelligent and specific threats, IT will take a more strategic and innovative approach to solving problems.

Data Center Trend #1: The right to choose -- appliances, software, and cloud.

Although software continues to drive innovation, 2011 will bring new delivery models in response to customer need to ease IT operations. Cloud computing, hosted services, and appliances are examples of increasingly attractive delivery models that provide organizations with flexibility and ease of deployment. In 2011, organizations can expect to tackle agility, technology, and storage optimization through unified storage devices with security and backup cloud access.

Data Center Trend #2: Cloud storage grows up.

The cloud will also greatly change the way services are delivered in 2011. More organizations will leverage public and private clouds as they become highly available. As we head into 2011, enterprises will require the ability to manage storage resources whether they’re local, across a campus, across multiple campuses, global, or in the cloud. Tools will emerge to manage this new, complex, storage environment and to help IT administrators better understand and capture information about unstructured data that resides within it. This will allow IT to fully utilize the benefits of the cloud and intelligently report to management.

The hybrid cloud archiving model will also be adopted to allow organizations to use hosted messaging services while keeping their archives on-premise to drive cost out of the discovery process, maintain strict access to data, and define who is searching it and where they are sending requests.

How to Prepare

Given today’s stagnant and declining IT budgets, it’s imperative that organizations get better value from their IT spending by automating many of the mundane and redundant day-to-day tasks, freeing up IT to work on more valuable initiatives.

Steve Morton is the vice president of product marketing at Symantec, with responsibilities for the company’s broad enterprise product portfolio. You can contact the author at Stephen_morton@symantec.com