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Desktop computing predictions for 2010

Which desktop technologies will be important to enterprises next year? Learn about the virtualization, Windows 7 and cloud computing developments to watch for.

Despite the recession, enterprise IT shops are looking to make investments next year. Companies will begin deploying Windows 7, and virtualization and other new technologies will get more attention. Security and standards challenges will persist, but which areas should you focus on?

Here are some predictions for desktop computing in 2010.

Desktop virtualization
The deployed base of virtual desktops is expected to double in 2010. Improvements in Microsoft, VMware and Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offerings will tempt many administrators to dip their toes in the virtualization pond. Those already swimming in VDI will significantly increase their deployments to benefit from the lower management costs and efficiencies promised by virtual desktops.

Cloud applications
While we won't see a dramatic decrease in the number of locally installed applications, IT administrators will begin testing the feasibility of so-called cloud applications. The goal is to reduce desktop support costs while providing the same level of functionality to users. I expect limited trials of Office productivity applications to join existing cloud applications for email and file sharing. Cloud application growth will be slower than predicted, partly because of fears about availability (i.e., the recent Bing outage).

Off-site storage
Companies will take a risk in 2010 and start storing more of their data off-site and online. Storage costs are way down, and the larger service vendors are offering enticing deals to those companies that jump into the cloud with them. If IT administrators can still access their data in a fast and secure manner, local storage area network disks may be freed up and start to be used for virtualization activities.

Along with the rise in cloud computing, 2010 will bring the first corporate deployments of netbooks. These lightweight subnotebook computers will provide access to cloud and intranet applications while reducing both the price to acquire and the cost to maintain each system. Netbook sales should rise from 20% to 30% of all portable computing devices (not including handhelds) next year.

Google Wave
New forms of many-to-many communication will emerge in 2010, with Google Wave leading the way. By the end of the year, expect over 2 million riders on the Wave. While it may be frequented by developers and social users at first, watch for the Wave to supplement forums and knowledge-base articles for vendor technical support.

Windows 7
Microsoft's newest operating system will surpass the number of Vista installations on corporate desktops. With prior Windows releases, it has taken years for the new OS to exceed the numbers of the prior OS. However, given the perceived instability of Vista and the enhancements in Windows 7, IT administrators will have no problem convincing management to make the leap from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7.

The federal government will create desktop configuration standards for Windows 7. Unfortunately, the standards probably won't be released until midyear. Vendors will need to revise their products to support the new standards and then have their products certified by labs before they can be used in the field. What does all of this mean? An effective set of Windows 7 products won't be certified for use until the end of the year, and government installations of Windows 7 before then won't meet the established requirements.

Cloud phishing
Phishing scams are old news -- but when combined with cloud computing, end users will have a whole new set of things to worry about. In 2010, scammers will use phishing attacks to gather user credentials to cloud applications like hosted email, customer relationship management and social media. Using these credentials, bad guys will initiate new methods of online identity theft. As a result, end users will be locked out of their applications, and corporate data will be at risk. IT administrators will need to weigh the data they put online against the new threat of cloud phishing.

Of course, only time will tell if these predictions are accurate, but they're reasonable given the trends in the past months. The first step in preparing for IT change is to know where to look.

Eric Schultze
Eric Schultze is an independent security consultant who most recently designed Microsoft patch management solutions at Shavlik Technologies. Prior to Shavlik, Schultze worked at Microsoft, where he helped manage the security bulletin and patch-release process. Schultze likes to forget that he used to work as an internal auditor on Wall Street.

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