IT Pro Leader Board: 2011 tech highlights

A shining example has been the release of the Software Development Kit for the Microsoft Kinect. I have no idea how this will work for us, but if we can programme to this new interface and if will work off standard USBs, we could see 'Minority Report' type application control in the workplace.

IT departments have long been seen as "money pits" within any business and the option for cloud-based operations opens out so many positives.

Our business users are all knowledge workers, most use two screens and lose a lot of productivity simply moving data from screen to screen with a mouse. The idea that the 40-year-old mouse could finally be redundant as a means of manipulating information is great."

Liam Quinn, IT director, Richmond Events

"Cloud. Cloud. And once more cloud.

I have been fortunate to see the transition from dial-up bulletin boards to the wonders we see on the internet these days and how ubiquitous it has become. I look forward to scaring young children in years to come by being able to proudly declare "I'm older than the internet!"

Why cloud? Some people might say "What about the iPad as tech highlight of 2011?" but my response would be: get rid of cloud and see how useful your iPad becomes. Soundcloud? Gone. Hosted email? No. Dropbox? Not a prayer. Skydrive? In your dreams.

Cloud has given people of an "infrastructure" bent, like me, a new set of tools and opportunities to drive cost out of our organisations. In the current financial climate, cloud has given people in my position an opportunity to say to the business "Not only can I get you something better than what we have, I can get it cheaper - considerably cheaper!"

Cloud. Cloud. And once more cloud.

IT departments have long been seen as "money pits" within any business and the option for cloud-based operations opens out so many positives:

Environmentally, we can cut down our carbon footprint by utilising equipment as completely as possible in a shared processing environment.

Offer staff the opportunity to work from home without clamping them in VPNs and committing resources to the daily commute

Capex? What's that?

Scalability: Call in extra processing to deal with spikes in utilisation and then release the capacity and cease paying for it (rather than over-purchasing kit for the occasions where it might be needed.

As staff or customer numbers ebb and flow, storage and transactions can be ramped up or scaled back accordingly. This allows for IT budgets to "follow the economic environment" rather than base itself on three-year Capex cycles of 'guesstimates' for the processing requirements of the business.

Level the playing field: Startups can have all of the processing power they need, on tap, rather than waiting for an invoice to be paid before they can invest in better service to their clients. "Large" organisations can be run from humble premises - their internet presence can give them "clout", backed by the cloud's ability to fund their required capacity.

All in all, I would say that cloud is the game changer now and the barriers to entry are pretty much negligible."

Mark Evans, IT manager, RLB

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.