Emerging enterprise tech: The also-rans

The backstory -- and some runners up -- behind InfoWorld’s picks of technologies that will have major impact on IT

Not just a few self-appointed experts, but a total of 29 InfoWorld editors and contributors helped create InfoWorld's Top 10 emerging technologies of 2009, providing suggestions, offering insight, and paring down a long list of nominations. The selection criteria were narrow: It had to be enterprise, it had to be in use, and it had to be promising.

To qualify, a technology couldn't be in widespread use -- or it wouldn't be emerging, would it? That ruled out, say, server virtualization, which has already taken the datacenter by storm. Our criteria still left us with around 25 contenders, but eventually a slow, painful process got us down to the 10 enterprise technologies we think will have the biggest impact.

[ Read the full text version of InfoWorld's Top 10 emerging technologies. Or if you'd prefer to cut to the chase, the slideshow version offers a quick tour. ]

I'm still lamenting some of the technologies we had to leave out, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to cover three of the most interesting runners up here:

Wireless USB. No doubt you've heard of USB 3.0, which offers 10 times the throughput of USB 2.0, but Wireless USB has been developing with little fanfare. Wireless USB represents the first widespread commercial use of ultra-wideband, a broad-spectrum, low-power technology that in this case delivers throughput up to 480Mbps -- theoretically. Real-world performance is expected to be in the 50Mbps-to-200Mbps range. The idea is to eliminate peripheral cables; products such as Wireless USB docking stations and monitors have already arrived. And fewer cables mean lower TCO.

Femtocells. The United States probably has the crummiest cell coverage of any industrialized country. So the carriers have a plan: Offer an access point called a femtocell, which plugs into your broadband connection and provides perfect cell phone coverage and faster smartphone data throughput. Theoretically, this could mean the end of the dedicated company phone system; employees just use cell phones instead -- if you want to be that dependent on the carriers, that is.

Rebootless Linux. A little company called Ksplice has delivered on a fantastic idea: Keep Linux updated without downtime or rebooting. When a new Linux security patch comes out, or even a major kernel upgrade, Ksplice packages it as a "rebootless update" that can be downloaded and installed without bringing down the system and, because it works at the object code layer, without programmer involvement. Now that's uptime.

Let me guess: You may be thinking of a technology you believe is more earth-shaking than these -- and, more to the point, deserves a spot in InfoWorld's Top 10 emerging technologies of 2009. If so, let us know about it, either in the comments to this post or in our discussion group devoted to the Top 10.

This story, "Emerging enterprise tech: The also-rans," was originally published at InfoWorld.com.

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