As I pondered the IT outlook for 2006, I noticed that my predictions for 2005 were not only correct, but they will also carry well into 2006. Let's hope my predictions for the New Year are just as accurate.
Better times ahead. The economy will continue on a modest but palpable upswing that was carried all through 2005, and it looks reasonably good to continue throughout 2006. I expect to see more business, and perhaps an added headcount here or there, as work expands beyond what even overtime and extra hours can cover. Let's hope it also means bigger paychecks and bonuses for those of us already on the job as well.
"Security-in-a-box" meets "performance-in-a-box." If 2005 was the year of the Internet/security device (NAT, firewall, DHCP, Web server, file server, print server, LAN switch and so forth, all in a sub-$300 box -- often under $200), then 2006 looks set to be the year of Internet/security/performance offerings. In other words, look for predefined quality of service and service priority capabilities to fold into the current omnibus offerings already available. Talk about doing more with less … these cigarette pack or paperback book-sized enclosures can really pack in the capabilities, thanks to royalty-free open source Linux kernels and inexpensive, powerful ARM processors.
IT security. Look for rootkit detection to become another checkbox item in Internet security suites, along with antivirus, antispyware and antispam protection (not to mention firewalls, pop-up blockers, phishing protection and more). I think you'll also see more low-cost managed security offerings reaching out to tap into the budget-wary and cost-conscious SMB market, flush with bucks and success from the enterprise and midsized business sectors.
More data-driven services: With Web services ruling most of the business world, more and more ways to use dynamically updated data collections and information, particularly as they relate to vendors, suppliers, customers and partners, are coming into play. Whether or not they trickle down all the way to the smallest of SMBs is more than I can guess, but the potential for such tools to change business methods is tremendous even at the mom-and-pop level. Did you want fries, or an ODBC connector with that?
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer based in Austin, Texas, who regularly covers Windows, security and markup languages for multiple TechTarget websites. He also writes regularly for Tom's Hardware, TechBuilder and Processor magazine. Let us know what you think about this column; email firstname.lastname@example.org.