So what's in store for 2007? Will organizations look to remote management delivered from offshore locations? Will radio frequency ID tags (RFID) start to be used at the product or item level rather than on pallets and containers. What will the key challenges for the CIO and CEO be - "Green IT" perhaps? How will Windows Vista and Microsoft 2007 fare when it comes to enterprise deployment - could Microsoft be in for a disappointment? Analysts at Butler Group, Europe's leading IT research and advisory organization, give their viewpoint of what lies ahead and what can be expected to unfold in 2007.

Green IT - Power Efficiency Issue within IT Firmly under the SpotlightImprovements in many areas of the IT infrastructure - better processor performance, higher levels of throughput and greater disk densities, to name but three - have led to a general acceptance that everything is getting better, faster and more efficient. There is, however, one area where efficiency is lagging - and that is in the area of power performance. This leads to concern about the cost of maintaining the IT infrastructure, especially in data centres which can have a power efficiency level as low as 70%. When one considers that a domestic gas or oil central heating boiler runs at around 80% efficiency, and these are coming under close scrutiny to make them more efficient, it is clear that the whole power efficiency issue within IT is now firmly under the spotlight.

Mike Thompson, BPM Practice Director - Practice Area: IT Policy and Strategy

Legacy ERP and Methodology Confusion will Hold Back SOA ProgressIn spite of the biggest vendors' best efforts, enterprise resource planning (ERP) customers will not be persuaded to upgrade during 2007, merely to gain flexibility. Genuine business needs will drive the upgrade cycle - and this must be met by delivering new functionality not dressing old applications in new clothes. Although service-riented architecture (SOA) is seen as an essential construct for enterprise applications by the majority of vendors, it will take a number of years for the market to catch up.

Teresa Jones, Senior Research Analyst - Practice Area: Enterprise Applications

For those that do embark on more ambitious SOA projects, the use of a methodology built around the requirements of SOA will become mandatory. To date, most of the initiative towards creating SOA methodologies has been taken by the system integrator community, but software vendors will start to view the delivery of a methodology to be a competitive differentiator. Consequently, we could face methodology proliferation, which could actually add to the confusion around SOA implementations.

Rob Hailstone, Software Infrastructure Practice Director - Practice Area: Software Infrastructure

Virtualization to Dominate the Data CenterThe virtualization of the IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, networks and clients, is a key technology to improve the flexibility and utilization of the data center. In a competitive market, EMC is the dominant technology provider, but will be chased by other solution and service providers including HP, Cisco and IBM. Microsoft will continue to build a diverse capability in this market, and following on from the acquisition of Softricity and the recent agreement with Novell, Butler Group expects the company to extend its reach through further partnerships in order to strengthen its offering. Ardence and SWSoft are potential targets for acquiring vendors.

Roy Illsley, Senior Research Analyst - Practice Area: Infrastructure Management

Measuring the Business Value of IT will be a Key Challenge for both the CIO and CEOAlthough IT is maturing as a business function it still lacks some of the accepted methods, comparable to those found in other areas of the business, for measuring the value that it delivers. The outcome that is sought is business value, enabled by IT, rather than IT value per se. This makes it essential to establish a formal framework that can be used by both business and IT leaders to support value measurement. Initiatives such as ValIT and the IT capability maturity framework (IT-CMF), and the broader use of Project and portfolio management (PPM) tools are supporting this move, but above all it requires the development of a common language and frame of reference for describing business value, and for agreeing the appropriate metrics by which individual projects should be measured. This will be a key challenge for both the CIO and the CEO during 2007.

Tim Jennings, Research Director - Practice Area: IT Policy and Strategy

SharePoint-Based Solutions to Exceed all Expectations

While Microsoft will be disappointed with the number of enterprise deployments of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 during the coming year, deployments of SharePoint-based solutions will exceed all expectations. Microsoft's apparent commoditisation of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market could well start a price war amongst established vendors as they try to up-sell and compete with Microsoft. Those vendors with large ECM product portfolios will consider discounting their Document and Records Management modules in the hope of securing more business down-the-line. Consumer-oriented Internet- and Web-based technologies will continue to infiltrate the workplace, and these will cause many CIOs to rethink their information worker strategies.

Richard Edwards, Senior Research Analyst

Practice Area: Desktop and Client Strategy

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