Which IT technologies should you embrace and which should you run away from?
That's easy, according to Kevin McKean, president of McKean Media, stay away from grid computing, mainframes and piecemeal security solutions.
The five hottest enterprise trends to embrace are RFID, service orientated architecture (SOA), virtualization, software-as-a-service and IPTV.
These technologies will gain a high or critical priority over the next five years, McKean said, and will be driven by product maturity, cost and need, rather than market forces.
Even storage vendors, he said, are seeing a maturity in RFID, but the cost of tags still needs to be lower.
"Storage is the technology that goes hand in hand with this and the fact that the cost of tags is coming down is absolutely critical. Industry analyst IDC has also stated the main driver for acceptance is the cost of tags coming down," McKean said.
"RFID gives you this wonderful opportunity for machines to know what is happening in the real world and storage vendors cannot sit still."
"In terms of virtualization, once you start layering on top of virtualization the ability to collect data, analyze it and make decisions is hugely important."
"Now we are seeing in products a virtualization stack with vertical management and security layers - there is a virtualization layer on top of virtualization."
McKean said SOA is attractive because it allows organizations to re-use code, reassemble services and speed up application development.
So why should users run away from grid computing? According to McKean this is one "idea" that hasn't come to fruition.
He says 90 percent of people know what the term grid computing means, but have no interest in implementing it.
Moreover, McKean believes mainframes are being phased out naturally.
"Grid has wound up being less important than the hype," McKean said.
"I hate to bag mainframes as once you own the darn things they are cheap to operate. Also IBM is rolling out mainframes going up to 17,000 MIPS, but in my contention [mainframes] are not going to go away but will fade in importance, at least for the time being anyway."
Not surprisingly, vendors are far more bullish when it comes to grid computing, claiming that grid intelligence will ultimately migrate into the network.
"Intelligence has to be in all the layers, in upper-level middleware and lower middleware, in the network, in the operating system. The issue is, how do we make the different layers -- rather than having an air gap between them -- how do we move them together so they can work together more efficiently?" vice president of Cisco's product and technology marketing, Rob Redford, said.
IBM's program director of Internet standards and technology, David Martin said the real challenge is to integrate these different layers under a common management structure.
"The solution is standards. A lot of the win in grid is not necessarily around utilization -- it's cheap to buy more processors and storage. The win is to be able to bring up a new application quickly and efficiently and with one common management interface," he said.
There is no doubt vendors are counting on standards to ensure their respective grid components will play together.
Hewlett-Packard's CTO of network storage solutions, Michael Feinberg believes the industry as a whole is moving towards common standards.
"While some vendors talk about the Adaptive Enterprise and others talk about the Dynamic Grid Infrastructure, if you dig down in all of the market-speak you find an incredibly common set of things that are being done."