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Going green tops Gartner's 2008 IT trends list

Shifting to "Green IT" and unified communications are next year's top two trends, according to analyst Gartner.

Environmentally-friendly "Green IT" will continue to be at the forefront of businesses' strategies next year, according to analyst Gartner who this week revealed the top 10 trends and technologies it believes will be key in 2008 and beyond.

Potential "green" regulations could further constrain companies from expanding data centres and the impact of power grids and carbon emissions are under constant scrutiny, meaning that the pressure to get and stay green is only set to increase.

Gartner has previously claimed that the manufacturing, transportation and use of IT equipment causes roughly two per cent of the world's carbon emissions, on a par with the aviation industry.

Although the issue has been widely highlighted, and many organisations have publicly declared their eco-friendly commitment, a large number of businesses have yet to turn intentions into action. Indeed, a poll conducted in September by storage vendor Onstor revealed that just over a third (36 per cent) of organisations currently have projects that would make their computing needs more environmentally friendly, leaving a majority that has yet to act.

However, some companies are doing their bit, particularly the major IT vendors who are trying to take the lead. Dell, for example, has clear plans to become carbon neutral as evidenced by its tree-planting and energy-savvy initiatives.

But being green isn't the only major change predicted for the coming year. Currently, 20 per cent of the installed base with private branch exchanges (PBX) have migrated to IP telephony, with more than 80 per cent in a trial phase, according to Gartner, which expects the majority of companies to embark on full-blown implementation over the next three years.

The impending switch to unified communications, the first major change in voice communications since the mobile phone revolution, could prove key as companies look towards reducing meeting-related travel as part of their mission to become greener.

The remaining trends that Gartner believes will be prevalent in 2008 are business process modelling, metadata management, virtualisation 2.0, mash up and composite applications, web platform and web oriented architecture (WOA), computing fabric, real world web and social software.

"Companies should factor these technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," said David Cearley, vice president of IT for Gartner Symposium, an event being held next month where the analyst plans to go into more detail about its predictions.

"Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology. In other cases it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology. The important thing is to ask the question and proactively plan."

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