Picking the top 10: Technologies vs. trends

No one can tell for sure which emerging technologies will have the greatest impact on the enterprise, but we're giving it our best shot

Putting together serious top 10 lists is never easy, but we really sweated bullets over this year's "InfoWorld's top 10 emerging technologies." Not because we wanted to please anyone -- or even a majority of people -- but because stuff like this is just too contentious. We wanted to get it right because we know it's a unique list at the core of what InfoWorld is about.

It's a lot easier to talk about trends than technologies. (And probably more profitable, because analysts seem to dress better than I do.) We all know the leading enterprise trends: the consumerization of IT, the private cloud, and big data. And if you're hip enough to know about it, devops is pretty cool. But the technologies underlying those trends differ depending on who you talk to.

[ Do not pass Go -- head directly for "InfoWorld's top 10 emerging technologies" and let us know what you think. | For extra points, compare and contrast with InfoWorld's 2009 top 10 emerging enterprise technologies.]

Take the consumerization of IT, which is all about user empowerment. Rather than wait in line for IT's limited bandwidth, business folks just go out and buy their own mobile devices and apps, purchase cloud services with a credit card, or use social networking services for business communications. You can certainly argue that tablets, say, are key to that trend -- after all, consumerization is partly about intuitive technology. But we chose advanced synchronization in the form of iCloud and the forthcoming Windows 8 as the key technology because we believe the profound shift is that the user experience is becoming cloud-centric, with individual devices becoming mere access points of the moment.

As for the private cloud -- once you get past the silly nomenclature -- the big picture is that we are watching an operating system for the data center evolve before our eyes. We see private cloud orchestration software at the center of that evolution, as represented by OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Puppet, and others. Another side of that unprecedented data center agility and efficiency is the software-defined network, the leading example today being OpenFlow.

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