Looking ahead in enterprise

We take a brief look at some of the upcoming trends in the enterprise space.

AMIDST the continuing global uncertainties, the ICT sector in Malaysia is expected to remain upbeat in 2012.

According to research firm Gartner, enterprise IT spending in Asia Pacific is expected to grow 8% to exceed US$367bil (RM1.13tril) next year. In Malaysia, the number is projected to reach RM31.5bil in 2012, up 6.1% over 2011.

So what lies ahead in the ICT sector for 2012? Time to dust off the old crystal ball, and also with help from some of our friends in the industry, we will try to get a clearer picture of what’s in store for the year.

Similar to the global trends, the focus here will be on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the growing popularity of cloud computing and continued explosion of data volume.

Using your own

BYOD will become an accepted business practice in 2012 thanks to the proliferation of smart, Internet-enabled devices like the smartphone and Tablet as well as ultrathin notebooks.

According to Nigel Tan, principal consultant at Symantec Corp Asia South, mobility is becoming a mega trend among employees globally and this is driven by the consumerisation of IT.

“Even chief information officers want to be able to use and connect their own devices to the organisation’s systems. And they are not against this because a mobile workforce means an increase in productivity,” he said in an interview with Bytz.

Unfortunately, BYOD is not without any complications and risks. The new mobile landscape brings with it a whole new host of security threats and governance concerns.

“Mobile devices are becoming new targets for cybercriminals to steal corporate data and organisations need better policies to ensure that this does not happen,” Tan said, adding that organisations may already have policies for mobile devices but many have strong clauses to deal with the loss of devices but not when it comes to securing the device with mobile security software.

This may be a lack of awareness on the part of the organisation as the mobile device is still in its early growing stages, but organisations have to ensure that employees secure their mobile devices with a security software, he said.

Echoing the same concern, Cisco Malaysia managing director Yuri Wahab said the desire for on-demand access to information is so ingrained that many young professionals take extreme measures to access the Internet, potentially compromising the company and even themselves.

Many IT administrators feel that they are losing control over the mobile devices because they no longer belong to the company and they cannot simply dictate what kind of software or applications should reside on the device.

Organisations also need to beef up their IT infrastructure and policies to ensure that information contained in mobile devices do not fall into the wrong hands.

“There is a real need for a thoughtful and strategic approach in adapting IT and security policies to enable mobility and productivity while still managing risk,” he said.

The cloud factor

This year will be an exciting one for cloud computing development as Malaysia moves steadily towards a better understanding, preparedness and adoption of the technology, said Yuri.

It will continue to revolutionise the way organisations conduct business, improving all forms of data collection, storage and communication.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2010-2015) estimates that the global cloud computing traffic will grow twelve-fold to reach a total of 1.6 zetabytes annually by 2015 — equivalent to 22 trillion hours of streaming music, or five trillion hours of business web conferencing.

The rapid growth of cloud traffic reinforces the need for cloud applications and services, datacentres and network integration.

In a recent Cloud Computing Readiness Index 2011 study conducted by the Asia Cloud Computing Association, Malaysia came in seventh following leaders Japan and Hong Kong. It said that organisations are recognising the tectonic shift in the way services can be delivered through the cloud.

“Both the business community and government agencies understand the significance of ICT to economic competitiveness and are active in promoting a conducive regulatory environment for emerging technologies like cloud delivery models,” Yuri said.

Even in its relative infancy, cloud services certainly have a lot to deliver. If we can cut through the hype and focus instead on addressing the challenges and opportunities in simple business terms, Asia has every reason to continue to lead in adopting the new world vernacular, he said.

However, a conflict may also arise, as business and cloud providers argue over who is really in charge of federated trust. This engagement will bring change for service-level agreements and shared resources.

Data explosion

As noted by many research firms and top experts, big data is to emerge as a primary concern for IT and business in 2012.

This is brought about by the consumerisation of IT (the usage of smart connected devices to access the Internet) and the continued adoption of cloud by organisations.

At last year’s Techonomy Conference, Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt noted there were five exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilisation and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing.

This quick multiplication of data leads to new storage architectures coming online at an increasingly rapid rate.

However Hitachi Malaysia managing director Johnson Khoo reminded enterprises not to treat IT services or cloud as just another utility alongside water and electricity.

“They have to take account of the fact that a company’s IT infrastructure is not a fixed cost for a fixed supply, like gas or electricity mains. Instead, it is a dynamic, constantly changing expression of the company’s business processes and information flow,” he said.

Enterprises still need to plan and account for their entire IT architecture costs, including virtualised and cloud-based components, in order to achieve true efficiencies and real return on investment, he said.

Gartner estimates that 85% of all data exists in a semi-structured form, which means that firms will have to store and untangle different types of data more efficiently before obtaining any business insights.

This is where areas such as business analytics and intelligence plays a bigger role for faster and more data-driven decision-making, which increases the need for more real-time analysis and insights.

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