Products That Fill Needs—Now

Opinion: Five categories top the IT agenda for the second half of 2006.

Recently the intrepid analysts at eWEEK Labs took on the task of identifying the 25 most important technology products of the past 25 years. You can check out their slide show to see if you agree with the selections. I thought Id take a stab at something less ambitious, but more immediate. With the year more than half over, what are the five most important products needed by the end of 2006?

1. Virtualization that is cheap and easy for system administrators. This one is a bit of a cheat, as Ive seen a product that comes really close. The developers at remote PC management company LogMeIn are about to introduce LogMeIn IT Reach. My trip to view the demo involved only an elevator ride to the first floor of our building, but the idea of systems administrators gaining sophisticated, but not confusing, tools for monitoring and administering their networks via the Web is really compelling.

With products such as Tivoli and OpenView becoming supersophisticated Web services management offerings, a simple Web-based tool for checking out the health of the server room would be welcomed by administrators. Servers have been getting clobbered by the heat recently, and having a simple tool to diagnose, repair and reboot makes a lot more sense than that 3 a.m. wake-up call.

2. The IT utility meter. This one shouldnt be that hard. All those companies that spent millions of dollars developing software agents that can manage software utilization, security risks and hardware capacity should be able to do this. How about making it simple for the systems administrator to be able to tell his or her boss how much power is being sucked up in the server room and on the desktops? If you want to call it a power-sucker meter instead of an IT utility meter, be my guest.

3. A simple way to improve desktop and laptop performance. This one is also a bit of a cheat, as I recently took Diskeeper Version 10 for a ride on my laptop. Here is a product thats been around for about 25 years and gets better with every new version.

The latest release went into my drive and found all those errant bits, put them where they should be, and did all that work in the background while I went about my important tasks of e-mailing and surfing the Web. The end result was a laptop that actually ran rather than lumbered along. The most common complaint of nontech execs is that their systems are running slow. Go grab Diskeeper 10 and improve your life by making your boss happy.

4. Computers that are safe to use. Hello, Dell? Quit thinking that you are going to get back into the race on price alone. How about pushing the security envelope?

The inclusion of the new Intel Core Duo will set off a new round of price and performance benchmarks for computer vendors, but I think it will be the vendors that can talk about the Trusted Platform Module, show the ability to easily turn notebook ports off and on, and efficiently prevent wireless snooping that will distinguish themselves this year.

5. The redesigned IT pro. IT has spent a couple of years being beleaguered; belittled; and, on occasion, outsourced. recently suffered an embarrassing power outage, and Bloglines seems to suffer outages on a regular basis. If these new Web 2.0 companies are indications of what the business-to-business world can expect for performance in the new world of Web services, something is very amiss. If the IT managers of today want to make it until tomorrow, they need to reassess and re-design their profession. Technology expertise by itself isnt enough, and neither are purely business decisions. Those who excel at both business and technology in a global environment will survive. Between now and the end of the year, we need a new respect for the IT pros who are supposed to keep the new world of computing from crashing.

Editorial Director Eric Lundquist can be reached at


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