Here's a look at the technologies Gartner analysts voted most likely to succeed at changing the face of business.
Gartner analysts at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008 in Las Vegas discussed what they believe will be the most disruptive technologies through 2012. Disruptive technologies are those that force changes in industry models, business processes, vendor types, products and services, as well as the all-important user model. Take a look at this list and tell us whether you think something has been omitted or just plain doesn't belong. This list is ranked in order from least disruptive to most disruptive.
10. Semantic Technologies
Unlike humans, machines cannot interpret meaning from context. To make meaning and context accessible to machines and remove ambiguity, programmers are looking to semantic Web technologies to provide computers with more explicit definitions of metadata and semantic relationships. Gartner is now plotting a 2026 due date for the move past semantic hypertext and data to a true semantic environment.
9. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality lets users mash up real-world actions with digital information. The Nintendo Wii gaming system is a good example of augmented reality, with users moving their bodies to make digital characters act accordingly. Also, Microsoft's Surface is a Vista-powered tabletop computer that lets users manipulate digital content with natural motions, such as hand gestures. This sort of real-world-meets-virtual-reality mashup will become more common.
8. Context-Aware Computing
Tired of having to log profile information for every Web service? So is everyone else, and this is one of the key thrusts behind the data portability movement. In the next few years, new context-aware services will take root to make the entry into new computing services more seamless. A couple of existing examples: Facebook offers "what you're doing now" functionality to facilitate info-sharing, while Yahoo's Fire Eagle lets users share their location with applications and services.
7. Ubiquitous Computing
The notion that computers will disappear into objects…quot;such as furniture, appliances and other hardware…quot;in homes and offices may seem like science fiction, but Gartner sees it as a vital force in the future. Cars have unseen computers, for example. Where it gets really cool is when these computerized appliances begin to work together. The trouble comes as computers surpass the number of nodes that can be managed in traditional ways.
6. User Interface
Think "Second Life" spliced with real reality. Startups will simulate sensory experiences, including touch, odor, air and motion, and even overlay computer information on a real-world view using a head-mounted display. For example, a hotel image could be overlaid with room availability and pricing info. This approach has the potential to change practices in health care, product services, retail, travel and other verticals.
Displaying a front-end assembly model for the cloud, mashups are applications that pull in data from multiple sources. Mashups will be a major force in the next few years, with vendors such as IBM, Serena Software and Microsoft leading the way. The disruptiveness comes in the end-user environment, where business users with little technical ability will be able to create their own mashups and assemble them in dashboards. This will introduce security and privacy challenges for the IT industry.
4. Cloud Computing
An extension of grid computing, SOA (service-oriented architecture) and utility computing, cloud computing represents software and infrastructure as a service. Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services have ridden this wave for several years now, and the model is changing things at Microsoft and Google, which just released its Google App Engine. Expect Microsoft to release a database cloud product later in 2008. The cloud will impact customers, partners and the IT ecosystem, Gartner claims.
3. Enterprise Social Software
Chaotic coproduction rules the roost in social software. Users post content to a tag cloud or a wiki to share with others. This data may be altered several times, creating an emergent structure. But beyond the traditional blog or wiki are rich personal profiles that provide an expertise network for enterprises. Don't know who in human resources to go to for 401K data? An enterprise social network could help find that information.
Virtualization enables users to run multiple instances of an operating system on a machine, a necessary foundation layer as the world begins to move into parallel processing and multicore computing tasks. While some forms of virtualization move virtual containers from one server to another, developers eventually will be able to make a container span multiple physical boxes for greater computing efficiency. However, these instances must be carefully managed.
1. Multicore and Hybrid Servers
Gartner's pick for the Number one most disruptive technology…quot;multicore and hybrid servers…quot;will have a broad impact on the entire computing industry, affecting the speed with which data gets processed, applications deployed and so on. Programmers will have to learn parallel coding, or how to write applications for the unpredictability of machines leveraging multiple cores. In addition, more cores running more applications mean more opportunities for failure, so management specialists will have to learn how to rebuild the systems that break. Multicore will also impact the way operating systems get built.