The drivers for consolidation – cost and energy savings, flexibility and high availability/disaster recovery benefits – remain very much in place, and most recent research by Computing suggests that in more and more organisations virtualisation of the production environment is becoming a reality.
Virtualisation of datacentre infrastructure is also, of course, a pre-requisite for deploying a private cloud, an area that 14 per cent of respondents believe will be the most important over the next two years. More broadly, Cloud service management was selected by 25 per cent. This could include public or private cloud services, managing service levels from a third party provider, or integrating cloud and on-premise services, for example. With almost two in every five respondents mentioning them, cloud skills are clearly going to be a valuable asset (figure 6).
Once again, VMware features strongly, while the increasing threats from malware, ballooning data volumes and the challenges presented by bring your own device (BYOD), see security, storage and unified comms all in the top 10.
The main trends in enterprise applications are consolidation and collaboration.
Given its overwhelming market share (well over 80 per cent according to Computing research), Microsoft’s Exchange email and collaboration suite can call upon a large body of skilled operatives to maintain and configure it. Fifteen per cent have abilities in its nearest rival- Lotus Notes.
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SharePoint skills are currently in high demand. The platform is seen as a flexible and easily customisable foundation for web applications with a wide range of potential uses within the enterprise, including intranet management, BI, file search and social media. It is perhaps this flexibility that led respondents to list SharePoint skills as those most likely to increase in importance. By contrast, demand for Exchange/Outlook qualifications looks to be virtually static.
CRM and business process management (BPM) are seen as other growth areas. Both have the goal of improving services to the customer, the former by pulling together the pools of data and functionality in the finance, sales and marketing department to reduce duplication and waste. BPM is a management approach that promises to drive cost-savings and efficiency and raise customer service and profitability by analysing and optimising, via technology, the various interacting processes that make up the business (figure 8).
Tying all the various strands of business technology together, we can see that collaboration and mobility are overarching themes, allowing workers to participate on shared projects from wherever they might be working.
Competitive advantage is being sought through better serving the customer, and by analysing the many streams of data flowing through the organisation in order to gain insight and inform decisions.
In the datacentre, further virtualisation can be expected, with cloud services being utilised to augment or occasionally replace on-premise infrastructure and applications.
By keeping a weather eye on these trends, and perhaps even more importantly, the way that the IT department enables the organisation to adapt to the changing environment, IT professionals can keep their skills fresh and avoid being shunted into technical backwaters – or worse.
About the survey
The survey was conducted by email to Computing's readership in May 2012. A total of 427
people completed the survey. Participants came from a range of vertical sectors, with IT and telecoms, banking and finance and public sector organisations being best represented. The sample was split equally between small ( < 500 staff) and larger organisations.
Download the survey results as a spreadsheet here (right click on the link and save link as / target as)