Reading IT's Tea Leaves for 2009

New Blood Needed at Old Stalwarts

On the personnel front, Sun will find a new CEO to replace Jonathan Schwartz, predicts the IDG News Service (a Network World affiliate). "We're torn between the view that he'll be ousted and the view that he'll decide it's just time to go, but either way we don't believe he'll be Sun's CEO at the end of 2009, if he even makes it past the first quarter or so," the news agency posits. "And Sun will cease to exist in its current incarnation, perhaps being part of a blockbuster acquisition, perhaps going private."

The IDG News Service also predicts that Time Warner will unload America Online, "either by spinning it off as a separate company, selling it, or using it as the basis of a joint venture formed with another company."

Other acquisition targets could include management vendors BMC Software and CA, which are becoming increasingly attractive to software vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP that need to fill out their respective management and automation offerings.

"Neither [BMC nor CA] wants to be acquired, but they continue to become more attractive morsels to the likes of Microsoft, which has no choice with its virtualization push to take on a bigger management role," says Glenn O'Donnell, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Through all the vendor shuffling and market machinations, one thing will remain constant in 2009: the continued assault from all kinds of malware and cybercrime activity.

VeriSign says critical infrastructure that's operated by Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems -- such as electrical power transmission facilities and gas pipelines -- will see increased attacks in 2009.

Sophos warns that a sharp increase in SQL injection attacks on Web sites and an increase in scareware products are on tap, while MessageLabs predicts that phishing attacks against users of social networking sites will become more sophisticated.

For its part, Cisco expects that in 2009, social engineering techniques will increase in number, vectors and sophistication. Insider threats will grow, as will security risks related to mobility, the vendor predicts.

Within the enterprise, Network World columnist Andreas Antonopoulos predicts that host-based security will become the focus for 2009. "The imminent release of Windows 7 and the continued interest in Mac OS and Linux as alternative desktops are once again focusing attention on operating-system and endpoint security," he says.

While security projects will struggle for funding in 2009, the pressure for businesses to stay compliant with a raft of new regulatory requirements could provide the funding excuse enterprises IT pros need. "Use compliance to push through budget requests on everything," Antonopoulos suggests. "It's 2007 all over again!"

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