There's a reason that so many businesses create five-year plans: If they're reasonable, they're achievable. Setting goals within that timeframe allows room for prioritization and opportunities to deal with the unexpected.
Of course, it's a little harder to develop a five-year plan for the entire IT industry. But the best place to begin is to consider the needs of IT people who map out the plans and get the job done every day.
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That's what we've attempted to do in creating this agenda of eight needs IT must attend to over the next five years. You won't find a lot of lofty talk about cloud computing or exotic technologies in the lab -- just a wish list for solutions to the big problems that get in the way of IT doing its job.
We don't expect everyone -- or even a majority of people who read this article -- to agree with our picks. Each person has his or her own axes to grind. We hope to hear about yours in the comments to this article.
IT fix No. 1: A solution to the desktop
Organizations large and small have been dealing with the increasingly creaky model of fat-client desktops since the dawn of the PC age. Admins still rove from desk to desk to upgrade and troubleshoot, and despite endpoint security advances, each desktop or laptop remains a big, fat target for hackers.
A variety of potential replacement technologies have made waves, but none with the all-encompassing feature set required of a no-brainer choice.
Take thin client computing. It fits some usage models very well, such as call centers and data entry applications, but most knowledge workers won't tolerate what amounts to a share instance of Windows. Other forms of centralized client computing, such as ClearCube's blade workstations, are in the same boat, meeting 100 percent of the requirements for a few markets and 0 percent for others.
The solution for this problem may come in the form of VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), a slicker and higher-performance thin client model, an amalgam of the two, or something completely different. Bottom line: We need a new paradigm that extends the PC tradition of personal empowerment, yet sustains centralized IT control, security, and management.
Ultimately, portability should be part of the package, too. That way, users can take their desktop environments with them and work without a connection; when that connection is restored, so is IT control. Will some kind of secure, client-side virtual machine be the solution? Will users bring their own laptops or tablets and run that "business VM"? Maybe. But nothing like that is close to getting widespread traction yet.