Fueled by the need to lower IT operational costs by streamlining management tasks, increased adoption of virtualisation technologies tops the list for 2011 trends. I also predict topical community forums, or crowdsourcing, will grow in popularity and importance as the migration to Windows 7 and Office 2010 continues to heat up in the new year. I also predict additional layers of security and protection from malware will be needed to keep companies safe, along with network restrictions.

The use of virtualisation technologies in the industry continues to rapidly evolve. I see mainstream virtualisation growth going beyond the data centre in 2011 and to desktops, laptops, handhelds and even tablets.

Here are the top 5 technology predictions for 2011 I expect to have the most impact on the industry and systems management. These predictions are based on what I see firsthand, from conversations with thousands of worldwide customers and from interacting with forward-looking IT organisations:

  1.  Virtualisation Everywhere

Virtualisation in the form of virtual machines, virtual workspaces and virtual applications will spread rapidly from servers to desktop, laptops and even handheld devices and tablets in 2011. Factors driving adoption will be the desire to support a broader arrangement of devices in the organisation, while keeping management costs contained and maintaining IT environment security.

  1.  Tablets in the Enterprise

Tablet computers will see very strong adoption in 2011, particularly in vertical sectors such as education, retail and hospitality. Tablets open up entirely new uses for devices at a much lower cost than traditional PCs. The combination of new services and lower costs will be irresistible to many IT organisations.

  1.  Consumerisation of IT

Separation of personal and enterprise data will continue to be blurred in 2011 as users introduce more personal devices and software in the workplace. In addition, many social media services previously regarded as purely personal, such as Facebook and YouTube, will continue to become important marketing tools for the business world. This will force companies to rethink IT policies and controls.

  1.  Communities and “Crowdsourcing” will Emerge as Key Productivity Enablers for IT 

Due to the increased complexity of IT and the breadth of knowledge required for full effectiveness, IT administrators will accelerate their use of communities in 2011. Key areas for community sourcing will be application and operating system deployment around Windows 7 and Office 2010, security, configuration management and also troubleshooting.

  1.  “Zero Day” Attacks Spur New Interest in PC Lockdown and Network Security

Due to increased occurrences of zero day attacks, implementation of additional layers of protection around content filtering and network restrictions will gain momentum. New approaches to PC lockdown will be necessary to ensure that zero day attacks fail, yet allowing users to still have the flexibility they need to be productive.