Netbooks, cloud to be winners this year: IDC

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Netbooks, cloud to be winners this year: IDC
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All of which is good news for poster-children of the Web 2.0 generation - cloud computing, social media and virtualisation, IDC said.

In a January survey, IDC found that nearly 18 per cent of Australian organisations use cloud services; a further 38 per cent have technology pilots or are considering its use.

"The expectations for cloud [computing] are high," Muller said. "The main drivers are economic. With little or no budget to fund IT initiatives, cloud services are moving up the agenda."

A byproduct was that IT managers can respond faster to business demands, he said.

Similarly, managed data centres will grow in popularity as the economy contracts and businesses are forced to respond rapidly to deteriorating or ultimately expanding conditions.

"Consolidation will remain the vanguard of data centre initiatives" to stave off the "crippling" costs associated with their operation, Muller said.

Bloggers came in for attention in the IDC report, with 17 per cent of respondents to a survey saying they "actively persuaded" influential bloggers to endorse their products to "more efficiently connect with their customers".

IDC did not say how successful these interventions were. Companies also used online forums (16 per cent) and social network sites (21 per cent) to push their agendas, IDC found.

"In a time when every customer counts, advanced customer-contact tools are providing smart organisations with the ability to access the new spending generation," Muller said.

Green IT

The vendor message about environmentally responsible IT was received by customers as cutting energy consumption costs, IDC said.

And virtualising the desktop is the "next obvious step", Muller said, as thin clients spread through organisations especially next year when organisations replace their machines.

"One additional driver of the deployment of thin clients and the virtualised desktop is the green-IT message. As more traditional PCs are transferred to thin clients, the greater the reduction in carbon footprint."

Although he said IDC was "very optimistic" about the environmental impact of such technologies, it was silent on how such e-waste would be managed or which organisations and vendors are best placed to handle their toxic recycling.

Netbooks will be part of the hardware refresh, IDC predicted, especially as their connectivity and portability advantages play into the hands of mobile operators. Vodafone Australia already offers a Dell netbook and 5GB of data for $59.95 a month.

"A slowing economy has put more value on people's ability to communicate and collaborate," Muller said, adding that flight-travel restrictions also lead buyers to consider the smaller form-factor netbooks.

But this trend offers a challenge to traditional retailers and resellers because netbooks' natural home is with mobile operators, bundled like a cellular phone plan.

Muller said channel partnerships with mobile operators would "proliferate" and "would change the way traditional notebooks were sold".

"The efforts that vendors will make to shift [netbooks] through non-traditional channels will challenge the way PCs are used and sold [in Australia]."

Read on to page three fora summary of IDC's Top 10 predictions for the year ahead.

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