Videoconferencing, cloud computing in hype cycle: report

Survey shows emerging technologies gaining traction

Gartner has named cloud computing, green IT and social-computing platforms among technologies that are poised to reach broad enterprise adoption in the next two to five years.

The report, "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008", by Gartner vice president and and fellow Jackie Fenn and other analysts, also cited video telepresence, which utilises high-end videoconferencing systems to provide remote conference participants with the feeling that they are in the same room — and microblogging popularised by the internet application Twitter — as being on the brink of widespread adoption among enterprises.

All of these technologies are at the peak of what the report calls their "hype cycle", a term Gartner began using in 1995 to describe the human response to technology, from overenthusiasm at the beginning, through a period of disillusionment with the technology, to an eventual understanding of the technology's relevance and role in a market or domain.

Gartner uses the hype-cycle assessment to advise IT managers about when they should begin to adopt certain technologies that are getting a lot of attention but whose value to the enterprise is not yet known, according to the report. IT professionals generally have a better understanding of how to implement technologies at the peak of their hype cycle in a few years, once the initial excitement about them dies down.

The impact of technologies that are at the peak of their hype cycle in 2008 will differ depending on the technology, according to the report.

Cloud computing, defined by Gartner as "a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered 'as a service' to external customers using internet technologies", in particular should have "transformational impact" on the enterprise, according to the report. This means the technology will change the way the IT industry "looks at user and vendor relationships," Fenn says.

"As service provisions (a critical aspect of cloud computing) grow, vendors must become or partner with service providers to deliver their technologies indirectly to users," according to the report. "User organisations will watch portfolios of owned technologies decline as service portfolios grow. The key activity will be to determine which cloud services will be viable, and when."

Companies that are leading the way in the emerging cloud-computing market are Google, Amazon.com, Microsoft and Salesforce.com, according to Gartner.

The impact of green IT will be high but less relevant to organisations than the impact of cloud computing, according to the report. However, organisations may use green IT practices to lessen the impact and acceleration of global climate change, and so could have a more long-term effect on that phenomenon.

Social-computing platforms, microblogging and video telepresence will have only a moderate impact on the enterprise as they begin to be widely adopted, according to the report.

The hype-cycle technologies outlined in the report are following a broader trend in recent years among emerging technologies in which they come of age among consumers first before they reach businesses, Fenn says. She cites microblogging, social networking and cloud computing as examples of this trend.

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Tags managementGartnerjackie fennvideo telepresencecloud computing

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