Even though the state of the global and local economies will probably be the main focus of attention in 2009, technology is nevertheless moving steadily forward.
Moreover, 2009 promises to be a particularly exciting year, with a mix of both new and improved technologies. The following are expected to represent the main technology trends in the coming year.
Cloud computing is expected to play an important role in the IT industry in 2009.
The concept of cloud computing is for large pools of computer systems to share an IT infrastructure. Cloud computing accesses virtual resources and is not limited by the power and capabilities of local or remote computers.
Cloud computing will support the next generation of enterprise data centres, operating like the Internet to provide extreme scale and fast access to networked users.
It offers a simplified, centralised platform for use when needed, lowering costs and energy use. Unlike grid computing, which distributes IT for a specific task, cloud computing is used across an entire range of activities. The platforms can be externally hosted services, but the principle can also be used inside companies, especially those that operate globally.
The market for cloud computing swelled to an estimated $36 billion (Bt1.24 trillion) in 2008, representing roughly 13 per cent of global software sales.
Uses for cloud computing will increase over the next three to five years.
Unified communications and collaboration (UCC)
The need for connectivity, anytime and anywhere, will remain essential despite economic conditions. UCC gives enterprises the impetus to enhance both internal and external communications by consolidating voice and other services on to standard data networks, thereby providing IT with an intuitive way to reduce operating costs.
The demand for UCC will continue as economic conditions improve, not only because businesses will be convinced of its benefits after trying it out, but because demand for it will be backed by sustainable developments.
With the emergence of virtualisation, embedded software on open platforms and the software-as-a-service model, there will be an increased focus on services and applications, like UCC, delivered over a robust network infrastructure.
The rules are also changing: people are no longer interested in operating systems and hardware platforms for computing and networking, but rather in how they can get simple, reliable and secure access to services that drive a business, anytime and anywhere.
The small 'cutesy form' factor will remain the primary selling point for netbooks, but it will also change the way these devices are being used.
With limited processing power and storage, users will be heavily dependent on being connected to the Internet, eventually running applications through the cloud.
This demand for connectivity will further change the way mini notebooks are sold. Instead of being sold by retail stores, partnerships with mobile phone operators are expected to proliferate, with devices sold in service bundles like mobile phones, using operators' cellular 3G infrastructures.
With vendors already looking at ways to overcome the challenges associated with this product category, ICT market-intelligence firm IDC believes that mini notebooks will change the way traditional notebooks are used and sold.
Windows 7 is expected to be available later this year. Microsoft has been attempting to improve most of the things that annoy people about Windows Vista, including user-account control, sluggishness and an interface that slows people down.
The most significant feature of Windows 7 is likely to be virtualisation, a technology that allows one computer to run operating systems or applications that used to require several different systems to handle.
With virtualisation, users will be able to run Linux, Windows 95 and DOS all on the same machine, at the same time. It will provide a lot of benefits, including energy savings, cost savings on software upgrades and accessibility to a wider range of applications.
The Internet is becoming the platform on which all business documents can be created and, more importantly, shared.
In the year 2009, there will be more online applications. For example, Google Docs, ThinkFree Office, and Zoho are offering free online word processors, spreadsheets and presentation programs. Even Microsoft is planning to move its Office suite of productivity tools to an online format.
USB has been the most successful plug-and-play connectivity standard for computing.
In 2009, USB 3.0 will be one of the highlight consumer technologies. It will boast maximum data-transfer speeds up to ten times faster than USB 2.0. With this speed, people will be able to transfer 27 gigabytes of data to an external device in about 70 seconds, when the same amount of data would have taken 15 minutes to transfer over a USB 2.0 connection. Importantly, USB 3.0 will also provide two-way communication with devices and ports. Therefore, data will be written and read simultaneously over the same connection.
Faster, More Secure Wireless
With mobile devices becoming more pervasive and finding more applications, mobile technologies that enable high user volumes, high-bandwidth voice services, seamless roaming and adaptive mesh creation, as well as industry-specific services like RFID asset tracking, will become important for businesses and consumers.
The 802.11n Wi-Fi protocol, which is expected to be finalised in 2009, will be a key to enabling all of these capabilities. Technologies based on the protocol that are already available are expected to be deployed liberally throughout the Asia-Pacific region in the coming year.
RFID-enabled mobile phones
According to research reports, it is expected that within five years, 50 per cent of mobile phones will include radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to use near field communication (NFC), a two-way technology.
Some major cellphone manufacturers are preparing to release communication devices incorporating RFID technology with the hope that consumers will change the way they buy products and services and use their credit cards.