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Tech Watch: Four emerging technologies worth your notice

VARs looking to boost their businesses should check out these four IT technology hot spots.

The old saying “there’s margin in mystery” applies both to tough-to-deploy products and to emerging products for which specific business applications are still evolving. With that in mind, we chatted with a cross-section of solution providers -- from VARs to MSPs -- about the emerging technology categories they believe have significant growth potential in 2011 and 2012.

Here are four common refrains:

#1: Bandwidth Optimization Appliances

With videoconferencing and other traffic-intensive applications putting more strain on corporate networks, there has been a surge of interest in technology that can improve network performance.

That means it is time to bone up on specifications such as TRILL, aka Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links, an Ethernet protocol under development by the Internet Engineering Task Force, said Chris Poe, CTO of network integrator Atrion Networking Corp., Warwick, R.I. In the last 18 months, a tremendous amount of network innovation has taken place, and a major portion of it has to do with acceleration and optimization features. “There is a network upgrade happening,” Poe said.

One specific beneficiary of the heightened demand on networks has been bandwidth optimization technology. Market research firm Aberdeen Group released a report in February 2011 showing that 50% of best-in-class organizations are using compression or application-specific optimizations in their networks, while 82% are at least monitoring network activity and performance.

The best-known technology vendor in this space is perhaps Riverbed Technology Inc., which recorded a sales increase of 40% for fiscal 2010 to $552 million; Cisco (Cisco WaaS) and Blue Coat Systems are major players as well. However, solution providers also suggest watching Talari Networks, which introduced a WAN virtualization application for midsized enterprises in January 2011. The appliance is intended to help augment or extend private WAN connections such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services for businesses with up to 24 remote sites.

#2: Data-loss Prevention Solutions

All the talk about moving specific applications and infrastructure into the cloud has heightened interest in what Towerwall Inc. CEO and co-founder Michelle Drolet describes as data classification services.

The long-time security solution provider, in Framingham, Mass., says more businesses are interested in ensuring that they have stricter policies and definitions for the data that rules their day-to-day operations.

“Organizations are now being challenged by their customers to show the security around the applications that are moving into the cloud,” Drolet said. “We are introducing a whole new complexity into security that is not at the forefront of people’s minds.”

For Towerwall, that has meant more interest in applications that can classify data (according to policy) and prevent it from being inadvertently (or maliciously) shared outside of a company’s firewalls. Two companies that she is working with are Varonis Systems, a data governance application developer that grew its revenue 63 % in 2010, and Safend Inc., an endpoint security vendor that just signed another distributor in early March 2011.

#3: Energy and Carbon Management Applications

This is a category born of the corporate sustainability movement, one that Forrester Research predicts could become a $1 billion software category by 2013. That’s up from sales of $163 million in 2010, in case you think that something smacking of green IT can’t possibly be a revenue generator.

Mauro Lollo, CTO and co-founder of integrator Unis Lumin Inc., in Oakville, Ontario, said many companies are looking for a more analytics-driven way to track things such as energy consumption and its related impact on their greenhouse gas emissions. Increasingly, businesses are embracing the idea that information technology can help automate management of these initiatives -- the same way enterprise resource planning tools are used to keep tabs on a company’s core processes.

In addition, some businesses already are seeking to link the technologies managing their facilities to their information technology infrastructure, Lollo said. “As networks converge, so will the energy and [it will] control networks in most buildings,” he said. “It comes down to providing a better environment for management.”

#4: Cloud Back-up Services

One byproduct of data center virtualization projects has been heightened interest in data backup and archiving. This, in turn, sparked the reemergence of the cloud backup service category. Yes, that’s right: Storage service providers are back with a vengeance.

“Some people are looking at cloud mainly as an infrastructure replacement, and backup is one of the specific areas that has benefitted the most,” said Frank Ballatore, president of the New England Computer Group, a solution provider in Danbury, Conn. The push to go mobile, providing cloud-based applications that support teleworkers and on-the-go employees using devices as diverse as smartphones and media tablets, also has been a factor pushing more companies to invest in backup options that make data management simpler, he noted.

Solution providers said one option worth considering for small business applications is AppAssure, which they say can handle Exchange Server restorations in minutes rather than hours. Another cloud backup service provider,, which is owned by the giant enterprise storage company EMC, took steps in February 2011 to enhance its channel program.

Hey, solution providers: What’s your pick for the best emerging technologies in 2011 and 2012? Email Tech Target contributor Heather Clancy to suggest other products categories and vendors the team should cover in coming months.

Check out more IT channel Tech Watch features on the latest emerging technologies.

About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York area with more than 20 years experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.

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