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App internet and mobile devices to drive massive technology demands in 2012

Strain on existing infrastructure worsened by proliferation of systems

The rise of the "app internet" - in which users' PCs, smartphones and tablets run the business applications - will drive completely different demands from technology next year.

That is the verdict of technology industry experts, who predicted fast-shifting pressures on technology from the rise in mobile application development, cloud computing and new security threats.

According to Forrester analysts, having said that the web, as the dominant software architecture of the Internet, was dead, a new internet is evolving - dominated by applications and now placing a strain on the technology supporting it.

"The app internet ushers in the next generation of computing," Forrester said. The high "momentum" of personal devices growth was vastly changing mobile platform strategies.

In order to cope with the change, it said, "elastic application platforms" would emerge "to handle variable scale and portfolio balancing". Businesses would also increasingly push for private clouds, aided by "improved virtualisation", it said.

It added that "always on, always available" was "the new expectation" from business leaders, and networks needed to evolve to meet this.

Gartner said that "low cost cloud services" would begin a fast growth, forming "up to 15 per cent of top outsourcing players' revenue" within three years. These industrialised services would "alter the common perceptions of pricing and value of IT", it said.

Cloud services will top $36 billion (£23 billion) in 2012, IDC said, "growing at four times the industry rate".

"Eighty percent of new apps will target the cloud," it said, with Amazon "joining the $1 billion vendor club" and duelling with Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com and VMware.

In spite of frequent gloomy predictions by financial analysts for the world economy, IDC said there would be a 6.9 percent growth in IT spending in 2012, "turbo-charged" by mobile devices. But analysts warned of the Thailand floods' continued severe impact on the PC supply chain, and they said some production could shift to the Americas.

The battle to lead the IT marketplace will "start to be won and lost" next year, with Amazon's Kindle Fire taking 20 percent of media tablets, and growing Android momentum taking on the mobile OS field.

It would be a "make or break" year for Microsoft, RIM and HP in mobile devices, with the vendors respectively depending upon the success of Windows 8, BBX and tablets, IDC said.

Analyst firm CCS Insight predicted that RIM would restructure its business "into two divisions: a services unit and a hardware unit". The aim of this would be "to provide sharper focus on the two most important elements of RIM's business", it said.

Industry-specific technology will also be on the rise next year, analysts said. While smart cities would drive $40 billion worth of IT investment in energy, government and healthcare sectors, retailers will use a raft of specific mobile apps, IDC predicted. Financial businesses will ramp up the use of social media, well beyond marketing.

Nevertheless, social software is being branded by some as a "bubble", with Gartner predicting that the investment bubble for enterprise social software companies will expand next year, before a dramatic burst in 2014. There was too much "overlap" in the market, it said.

As the volume of data consumed by enterprises grows, and the demand for analytics heightens, IDC said it will be a "busy year" for Big Data-driven vendor mergers and acquisitions, around "visual discovery, predictive analytics, and Hadoop analytics".

Tech vendor LG said there will also be a growth in network attached storage, as businesses deliver more content to smartphones and develop a need "to both back this content up and be able to access it remotely".

Testing company SQS Group said the changes in IT were driving a demand for rapid improvements in software analysis and readiness checking.

But the changes also offered a chance for a fresh approach, it said. "There will also be a rise in Testing as a Service - as the IT industry looks to control costs and gain advantages of scale."

Any weaknesses in the underpinnings of cloud technology "will be countered by third party vendors who will begin to offer products mimicking features similar to locally hosted solutions", it said. "This is particularly true in areas such as database backup and recovery."

As more businesses consider using open source software, at least for some parts of their business, they would also consider open source-based testing automation tools, SQS said.

"To offset the up-front cost of implementing test automation, open source products with no licence fees can be utilised to keep the initial investment in test automation low, thus maximising the return on investment," it said.

The increased complexity of business technology was raising tough demands on security technology, experts said.

"Cloud computing will take mobile device (in)security to a whole new level," said vendor Qualys. "And cybercriminals have already demonstrated that the proliferation of mobile devices is a pretty easy way to access the corporate network"

However, it said many cloud services were gradually becoming increasingly mature and secure, and added that 2012 will see "cloud-based security take the heavy lifting and complexity burden off businesses" struggling to cope. It also moves the problem "to an infinitely scalable platform", it said.

The rising maturity of the cloud means business executives - beyond IT - will be aware of potential risks and will demand evidence of strong security. Gartner said. "By 2016, 40 percent of businesses will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service," it explained.

Security supplier Trend Micro said the "new social networking generation", which is entering the workplace, will "redefine privacy". It added: "In a few years, privacy-conscious people will become the minorityan ideal prospect for attackers."

Additionally, it said, people using their own devices for accessing corporate data would create serious security technology challenges. It explained: "Smartphone and tablet platforms, especially Android, will suffer from more cybercriminal attacks."

"Following a flurry of developments in mobile payments, NFC and mobile banking in 2011, already 2012 is heading to be the year of the mobile attack," said vendor Validsoft.

"Trojans such as Zitmo and Spitmo - version of Zeus and SpyEye which attack mobile devices - are already well known, and other terms such as 'Pseudo Device Theft', 'SIM swapping', 'mobile malware' and 'AppPhishing' are all starting to make their way into the tech dictionary."


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