Mobility and agility are the two key concepts for the new decade of computing innovation. At the epicenter of this new enabled computing trend is cloud computing. Virtualization and its highly scaled big brother, cloud computing, will change our technology-centered lives forever. These technologies will enable us to do more; more communicating, more learning, more global business and more computing with less — less money, less hardware, less data loss and less hassle. During this decade, everything you do in the way of technology will move to the data center, whether it's an on-premises data center or a remote cloud architecture data center thousands of miles away.
1. Mobile Computing
As more workers report to their virtual offices from remote locations, computer manufacturers must supply this new breed of on-the-go worker with sturdier products loaded with the ability to connect to, and use, any available type of Internet connectivity. Mobile users look for lightweight, durable, easy-to-use devices that "just work," with no lengthy or complex configuration and setup. This agility will come from these smart devices' ability to pull data from cloud-based applications. Your applications, your data and even your computing environment (formerly known as the operating system) will live comfortably in the cloud to allow for maximum mobility.
By the end of this decade, virtualization technology will touch every data center in the world. Companies of all sizes will either convert their physical infrastructures to virtual hosts and guests or they'll move to an entirely hosted virtual infrastructure. As more business owners attempt to extend their technology refresh cycle, virtualization's seductive money-saving promise brings new hope to stressed budgets as we collectively pull out of the recession. The global move to virtualization will also put pressure on computer manufacturers to deliver greener hardware for less green.
3. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing, closely tied to virtualization and mobile computing, is the technology that industry observers view as "marketing hype" or old technology repackaged for contemporary consumption. Beyond the hype and relabeling, savvy technology companies will leverage cloud computing to present their products and services to a global audience at a fraction of the cost of current offerings. Cloud computing also protects online ventures with an "always on" philosophy, guaranteeing their services will never suffer an outage. Entire business infrastructures will migrate to the cloud during this new decade, making every company a globally accessible one.
4. Web-based Applications
Heavy, locally installed applications will cease to exist by the end of the decade. This move will occur ahead of the move to virtual desktops. The future of client/server computing is server-based applications and client. Everything, including the client software, will remain on a remote server. Your client device (e.g., cell phone, computer, ebook reader) will call applications to itself much like the X Terminals of yesteryear.
By the end of this decade, printed material will all but disappear in favor of its digital counterpart. Digitization of printed material will be the swan song for libraries, as all but the most valuable printed manuscripts will head to the world's recycling bins. Libraries, as we know them, will cease operation and likely reopen as book museums where schoolchildren will see how we used physical books back in the old days.
6. Open Source Migration
Why suffer under the weight of license fees when you can reclaim those lost dollars with a move to open source software? Companies that can't afford to throw away money on licensing fees will move to open source software including Linux, Apache, Tomcat, PostgreSQL and MariaDB. This decade will prove that the open source model works, and the proprietary software model does not.
7. Virtual Desktops
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has everyone's attention these days and will continue to hold it for the next few years as businesses move away from local desktop operating systems to virtual ones housed in data centers. This concept ties into mobile computing, virtualization and cloud computing. Desktops will likely reside in all three locations (PC, data center, cloud) for a few more years, but the transition will approach 100 percent non-local by the end of the decade. Moving away from localized desktop computing will result in lowering maintenance bills and alleviating much of the user error associated with desktop operating systems.
8. Internet Everywhere
You've heard of the Internet haven't you? Do you remember when it was known as The Information Superhighway and all of the discussions and predictions about how it would change our lives forever? The future is here and the predictions came true. The next step in the evolution of the Internet is to have it available everywhere: supermarket, service station, restaurant, bar, mall and automobile. Internet access will exist everywhere by the end of this new decade. Every piece of electronic gadgetry (yes, even your toaster) will have some sort of Internet connectivity due in part to the move to IPv6.
9. Online Storage
Currently, online storage is still a geek thing with limited appeal. So many of us have portable USB hard drives, flash drives and DVD burners that online storage is more of a luxury than a necessity. However, the approaching mobile computing tsunami will require you to have access to your data on any device with which you're working. Even the most portable storage device will prove unwieldy for the user who needs her data without fumbling with an external hard drive and USB cable. Much like cell phones and monthly minutes plans, new devices will come bundled with an allotment of online storage space.
As dependence on cell phones increases, manufacturers will create new phones that will make the iPod look like a stone tool. They won't resemble current phones in appearance or function. You'll have one device that replaces your phone, your computer, your GPS and your ebook reader. Yet another paradigm shift brought about by the magic of cloud computing. Telephony, as we know it, will fall away into the cloud as Communication as a Service (CaaS). Moving communications to the data center with services such as Skype and other VoIP is a current reality, and large-scale migrations will soon follow.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.