Top 10 most recession-proof technologies

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Top 10 most recession-proof technologies

Times may have been tough before, but few economic slumps have been on the level of the global recession currently gripping the planet.

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Now that we are officially in the midst of the worst economic crisis this side of the Second World War, why don't we take a look at a few technologies which may be poised to make lemonade out of the bountiful crop of financial lemons currently being doled out.

10. Consoles

Shaun Nichols: At first, this seems a bit counter-intuitive; why would people spend on things such as gaming consoles in a down economy? The answer is because it's cheaper than going out.

This was an idea put forward last year by analysts, and it holds up when you think about it. Dinner and a night out on the town costs a lot more than grabbing some takeout and schooling your mates in SoCom.

There's also the rise of the Wii and the way it has broadened the gaming market. One thing hard times often do is bring people closer with their families, and these days many families have replaced the traditional board game with console trivia or casual family games.

Iain Thomson: Home entertainment always does well in a recession, for the reasons Shaun has outlined. This is even more accurate with some of today's systems. Buying a Blu-Ray player for example is almost as expensive, and in some cases more so, than buying a PS3 that plays the discs and provides gaming fun.

While there will always be a hard core of people out there who refuse point blank to play video games, presumably for fear that their brain cells will be depleted from even touching a controller, this group is shrinking rapidly. Games are now made that appeal to all stratas of society and consoles will do very well out of it.

9. Discount web sites

Shaun Nichols: We're not just talking about close-out sites or second-hand retailers here, though I'm sure some companies are taking to those sites for furniture and supplies.

There are a bevy of web sites out there aimed at doing things just a bit cheaper and for many companies looking to save cash any way possible, these services could have an appeal.

Take travel as a prime example here. While companies have significantly cut down or even eliminated travelling costs altogether, many businesses still rely on going around the globe to get things done. For those companies, there are a bevy of discount sites designed to get a cheaper price for things such as airfare and hotel reservations.

While the economic downturn has without a doubt hit these services as hard as anyone, they could see more business from cost-conscious business travellers and greater customer loyalty when things pick back up and people start travelling more often.

Iain Thomson: These discount sites take advantage of differential pricing to offer lower prices to savvy customers.

In the boom years people couldn't be bothered to find out all this information, the lazy just to paid what was asked. A few people did search around and did very well out of it.

But the fat days are over for the time being and individuals, companies and groups are all looking for a discount. They will find it online.

8. eBay

Iain Thomson: eBay is that rarest of things, an internet start up that has never lost money. As the recession begins to bite then this can only be good news for the online auction site, and others of its ilk.

A friend of mine just auctioned off a decades worth of gadgets that were no longer in use. As he said, “It's like playing the stock market, only you actually make some money back!”

Both businesses and individuals are going to turn to auction sites to try and get some money back on investments that are no longer needed. We saw this in the dotcom bust at the start of the decade, where computer equipment and, in some cases, entire offices were sold off to defray debts.

Shaun Nichols: Talk about a business model tailor-made for a recession. One of the first things people look to do when they need money is sell stuff they don't need any more, and eBay has become the de facto marketplace to do this. As laid off workers and downgrading residents look to dump off their excess possessions and bargain hunters look to score a good deal outside of the traditional retail space, eBay will be there to collect a handsome profit on the entire thing.

It may not be entirely rosy for the company, however. eBay's sales policies have turned a lot of its regular sellers off by instituting a variety of new rules regarding the listing and selling of items. If the top sellers leave en masse, there will be no shortage of opportunistic startups looking to step in and take advantage.

A friend of mine who runs a record and comic book store was so turned off by eBay's new rules that he recently decided to move his entire operation from eBay to Amazon. I'm sure there are more than a few people who are thinking about doing the same thing.

7. Network management

Iain Thomson: Network management tools are going to do well out of the recession for the simple reason that they save money.

In the good times computer networks get flabby. If you have a large IT staff then chances are they've done a favour or two and connected up hardware you don't know about. There's also the problem of staff who know too much about technology and are using your network with their own hardware.

A regular network scan can discover all of these things and allow you to take part in some trimming to get the network lean and fit again. This can also have security benefits. Chances are that any unauthorised kit on your network isn't locked down.

It's not just hardware you need to be keeping an eye on. Bandwidth expenditure is a case in point. A few people downloading from a peer to peer site can suck up data like no-one's business and needs to be stopped.

Shaun Nichols: Getting the most out of what you already have is a great way to save money, and that's exactly what network management systems do.

As Iain also pointed out, there's the security benefit. Lost in much of the panic over the recession is the continuing flood of companies losing important data. It was a problem before the market dropped and it is still a huge problem for many companies.

In some ways, it may be even more of a risk these days. Data breaches can lead to huge losses from both legal actions and lost business. With the margins for error so much tighter due to the economy, a data loss could prove fatal for an unlucky company in the near future.

6. Virtualisation

Shaun Nichols: These days, two servers aren't better than one. Aside from the cost of buying more hardware, there is the energy costs, maintenance costs and lost floor space from having a room full of the things.

So, what better way to cut back on costs than by turning one server into multiple servers? This is more or less the idea of virtualisation, split one large server into several smaller units.

Virtualisation has been popular for years with many companies, and many hardware providers have put the brunt of their marketing muscle behind virtualisation packages and things such as blade servers.

Still, there's a significant portion of the enterprise market that has yet to take advantage of the technology. A recent survey suggested that just 53 per cent of companies will be using virtualisation technology within the next year.

Iain Thomson: Virtualisation has hit a perfect storm of usefulness, and is guaranteed to grow in the coming years.

On the one hand, as Shaun mentions, it is becoming increasingly expensive to run server farms. On the other processors and server systems are now so blindingly fast that it makes sense to run multiple systems off one machine.

For companies it is a win-win situation. The IT department love it because it makes controlling an office network so much easier.

One word of caution however. Virtualisation's future may be bright, but companies that offer the software such as Vmware might not be so secure. Microsoft has set its sights on the virtualisation market and what companies can charge for today may well be given away for free tomorrow.

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