September 24, 2012, 11:58 AM — Restaurant tabs paid by phone without showing a credit card. Advice on personnel issues available to managers on mobile phones. College students' lab work done at home through virtualized software. These are just some of the hot projects that IT shops are working on.
With beefier IT budgets comes more money to try out new technologies. In fact, the percentage of respondents to Computerworld's annual Forecast survey who report that they're beta-testing or conducting pilot programs has been rising steadily for the past few years. More than three quarters (77%) of the 334 IT executives surveyed by Computerworld in June said their teams are beta-testing or piloting new technologies to be unveiled next year. That's up from 43% four years ago.
This year, the top piloted projects involve virtualization, mobile and wireless, cloud and security technologies. Here's a look inside four IT shops that are trying something new with each of those technologies.
Students Get Better Service With Virtualization
For 74% of Forecast survey respondents who said they're involved in beta tests or pilot programs, virtualization tops the list of technologies being studied, and the initiatives include server, storage, network and mobile virtualization.
"Our jump into the virtualized world has been with both feet, and we've done it fairly quickly because we don't have enough time in the day to do everything we need to do and this was a simple and logical move for us," says Stephen Vieira, CIO and executive director of The Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick.
Vieira's IT team has been working with VMware's View and Liquidware Labs' ProfileUnity to bring virtualized applications to 18,000 students on four campuses.
Many students must complete lab assignments on specialized software that was available only in laboratory facilities. But the labs were only open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., while surveys showed that students, many of whom work one or two jobs in addition to taking classes, tackled homework between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. "With virtualized applications, students will be able to use the software 24/7," Vieira says.
The applications, to be rolled out this fall, also let the college keep licensing costs low by giving students access to software only for the classes they're registered for. "We can control the licensing and how many people use it in a period of time," says Vieira. Students can also save their personal settings between log-ins.