Updated: Jan 2 2006, 05:30am hrs
Battle for webtop begins

Get ready for the battle royale who controls your ride on the web. Having won your desktop, Microsoft will not allow Google to get controls so easily. While 2005 saw search wars hotting up and some action in browser space, now is the time for Web 2.0. Google is at the forefront of the new internet business model: free services to users paid for by advertisers. On the enterprise side too, the concept of pay-as-you-go pricing, for software delivered over the Web has taken root with heavyweights like IBM and Sun Microsystems. Bill Gates is also promising to be big this year, comparing the services push to other major strategy shifts at Microsoft, including its December 1995 move toward the Web and a June 2000 commitment to Web services.

So, get ready for online subscriptions and advertising to move centrestage; no one can deny that web services and service-oriented architecture are showing promising signs of becoming the buzzword.

Down to earth computing

Tech research spotlight will shift,albeit partially, from developing the coolest, most expensive gadgets and move to bridging the digital divide.

Expect laptops costing Rs 5,000 and race for cellphones with a price tag of Rs 1,000 to begin. A hand-cranked laptop that will cost roughly $100 is expected to be in the hands of schoolchildren in poorer countries by late 2006. The idea is to get the cost of a basic computer down to $100 by a combination of clever design and bulk manufacturing (minimum order is likely to be about one million units). Governments in developing countries will give one to every child in their schools. Race to develop a mobile phone for $ 20 will also intensify this year as chip companies have been banding together to bring us phones as cheap as $20 by 2007.

Innovative solutions like PCs that can run without electricity for hours on car batteries and even those, which can be powered by pedaling, are under development in India too.

Enterprise mobility

Promises To Keep

Chip-fab in India
Made-in India cellphones
Hardware manufacturing
Over $ 8 billion investments announced
Microsoft $7 billion
Cisco $1.7 billion
SemIndia & AMD $3 billion
Intel $1.05 billion

Mobile devices of all shapes and sizes (smartphones, PDAs, portables, USB drives) have already taken their first steps into enterprises. As Blue-tooth enabled devices enter mainstream and faster technologies arrive, this year, mobile data access for workforce will become a reality. While tech is ready, IT departments will be seen grappling with security and policy issues.

India is one of the fastest growing markets and more mobile devices will be contending for accessing enterprise networks and applications than ever before. You will see applications, GUIs and web pages to fit mobile devices.

Security : From periphery to core

Techies Cant Wish Away

Blogs and controversies
Source-code battles
Cyber villainsspam, phishing, data theft
Competition and unionisation against offshoring
Storm over Wikipedia authenticity

Security is a topic that never stales. But its now time for security to move to the core of the enterprise from merely surrounding the peripheries. Role-based access control will increase and identity management solutions could become mainstream.

Hackers wanting to gain notoriety by writing the biggest worm will he history and targeted attacks crafted by businesslike hackers will get even more sophisticated and sensational reports on the menace of hackers, viruses, worms and losses in terms of revenues as well as man-hours will ensure that enterprise network security is always high on a CIOs priority.

Digital lifestyle

Your workstyle is already digital; it's now time for lifestyle too. Digital TV, LCD, plasma screens and media PC will invade your living room along with digital camera, photo printers, MP3 players and feature-rich mobile phones.

The rapid diffusion of broadband and digital technology in television networks is highly accelerating this process and is leading to the development of new content delivery infrastructures (internet, UMTS, MMS, MP3, VOD, DSL, WiFi/WiMax, digital cable) as well as new multi-channel access tools available to the end consumer. Not many analysts are yet betting on many watching TV on mobiles, even though 3G is on its way.

Prices of jumbo-screen televisions will be more affordable than ever and many more are likely to have the big-screens in their living room. Of course, TV screens are not the only ones getting wider, 19 or even 20-inch wide laptops could be on their way. Even if Ipod and Xbox have created more hype than sales, online gaming is sure to catch on, especially among youth the latest being Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Gizmos will surely up the style ante after iPod Nano and MotoRazr's attaining new heights on popularity charts last year.

Consumerisation: ITs friendly face

Five Hottest Technologies Driving The Indian IT

Testing and validation
About 30% of an application life-cycle being testing and around 80% of it can be outsourced
Remote management
Seen to be where application development and maintenance was a decade back
Seen to be on top of the value-chain, these are expected to help Indian IT majors take on global biggies
Domain- led process transactions
Widely expected to help BPOs and call centres scale up the value chain
Package implementation
One of the big contributor
to IT majors revenues, it commands good margins

A big number of technologies being adopted in enterprises today have their roots in the consumer market. Tech such as blogs, instant messenger, VOIP, SMS, mobile device networks over public internet are fast moving into enterprises. Many gaming designs are already been used in corporate elearning applications and could find their way into more. They might not find favour with computer policies but many companies will begin to build policies to incorporate their usage within the enterprise. Corporatised support and clearer enterprises policies should come out this year.

Next-gen Internet

India is getting ready for internets biggest upgrade Ipv6. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has already paved the way for the newer version of the internet protocol and next year will see the industry debating and getting ready for the next version. Globally, the wave has begun with NTT offering consumer IPv6 connection service that runs on any standard internet access line last month.

Once implemented, you will have an address space large enough to accommodate all electronic devices so that they can be assigned permanent addresses. Techies promise higher security and quality of service too.

If Trais recommendations are accepted, you are sure to see a test bed for Ipv6 this year.

Time to cut the cords

You name a network LANs, PANs, MANs, WANs wireless will be the key. Also, expect lot more wireless products, better throughputs, higher range and tons of applications; better throughput.

Next hi-speed wireless LAN standard 802.11 will get ratified and standards based product will emerge. WUSB tech-based products are slated to hit the market.

WiFi spots will surely be hot. With WiMax certifications in progress and products expected this year, it will raise its head as a serious contender to 3G. More and more network technology companies will try to aggressively sell this to operators. However, 2006, will only see in principle agreements and trial runs, but not many analysts expect serious offerings to hit the market so soon.

And with mobility, comes the talk of wireless technologies. The government is expected to introduce 3G (four to five times higher voice capacity than the current 2G services) by 2006. Hot spots to help you connect your Wi Fi-enabled laptop to wireless network and logon to the Net instantly will grow. Bluetooth is already gaining acceptance and new standards like ultra wide band technology are also under development.

Click on dual-core

PCs and servers based on dual core processors will become mainstream with Intel and AMD jumping on the bandwagon. While dual core chips arrived with gusto in 2005, prices are now dipping southwards. After desktops, it is now time for notebooks to go dual core. With mobile versions of dual core CPUs from Intel and AMD are expected this year, more powerful notebooks are on anvil.

Dual core is a move that began in 2001 with IBMs Power4. But last year, x86 chips from Advanced Micro Devices and Intel arrived in PCs and mainstream servers.

Overall PC platform will incorporate more features with the hardware like scalablity, vitualisation and manageability.

Utility-style IT

With software as a service beginning to take hold, utility style IT services will become mainstream. It will enable companies to fulfill IT infrastructure, applications and business process requirements from resource pools and leverage pre-configured solutions rather than focusing resources on customised options. IT heavyweights such as IBM and Sun Microsystems have been pushing on-demand, dynamic services ranging from business software to utility computing cycles from grid-based computers and now Microsoft is also latching on to the concept.

According to research firmGartner, more than half of the new outsourcing deals will include IT utility service components by 2008.

Get ready for the new wave Offshoring 2.0

Bigger and tougher two words sums up life in 2006 for outsourcing companies.

With a few multi-million dollar and multi-year mega deals in their kitty, all eyes are now set on when can our offshoring majors click on a $ 1 billion deal. While such deal sizes only remain a dream for Indian IT majors till now, $1 billion club will surely swell faster. Analysts also expect their big break into the global bigwig club will come from big-ticket deals and inorganic growth. Indian global champions have already started acquiring companies abroad and the wave will only intensify this year.

Having made waves globally, India is not likely to lose its status of most preferred offshoring destination with most reports still pegging India on top while ranking most attractive locations for offshoring of service activities such as information technology, business processes and call centers. China, Malaysia, Singapore and Phillipines are also high on the list. The Nasscom McKinsey study has also scaled up the target for the IT and BPO sector to $150 billion by 2015.

Challenges, however, are too big to be ignored. The high expectations associated with outsourcing will be hard to meet. Even as passion against stealing jobs has died out, expect concerns over security of data flowing into India to continue. While Indian majors like TCS, Infosys and Wipro rub shoulders with global tech majors, competition from other low-cost locations like China, Malaysia and Philipines is threatening to grow stronger too.

Conquering native shores too with manufacturing

Domestic IT market is clearly moving out of the shadows of the global offshoring wave that swept the Indian IT industry. Growing at close to 20 % annually, this is expected to be Indian markets third continuous year of growth after a slump in 2003. Analysts expect Indian market to continue to clock the fastest growth rate in Asia Pacific.The biggest growth drivers will come from WLAN equipment , digicams, IP phones, IP-PBX systems, smart handheld devices, application life cycle management software and security software. The year should see some mega-investments from global biggies who have already promised to invest big in India. Hi-profile visits similar to 2005-end are also likely to continue with Indian IT and telecom market rising on everyones radar.

And with the domestic market maturing, bright spots are emerging on the Indian manufacturing map too. Manufacturing in telecom sector is surely seeing a phase of boom. The reasons are not hard to find government mandate and market growth. Worlds largest mobile vendor, Nokia has decided to set up its tenth mobile device manufacturing facilities in Sriperumbudur with an investment of about $100-150 million. And Nokia is not alone. Motorola, LG and Samsung are all talking of manufacturing locally.

And its not only the telecom manufacturers eyeing government contracts, but even PC assemblers are getting serious about making boxes locally. With OEM manufacturing services firms pioneering the wave, India is emerging as a potential candidate for electronics manufacturing hub in South Asia.