Security, compliance and storage, but little blue sky at the world’s largest IT exhibition

As the annual IT trade show, CeBIT, takes place in Hannover, we report on the highlights

Thousands of business technology users have been visiting CeBit, the world’s largest IT trade show, this week.

The annual exhibition, which runs from 10-16 March in Hannover, Germany, sees users gather to find out what IT hardware, software and services suppliers have on offer to boost business efficiency and drive down costs.

As ever, the show is largely a showcase for products that are available now or will be released in the near future, rather than blue-sky technologies.

Neil Macehiter, partner at analyst firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton, said, "Linux, open source and voice over IP are figuring prominently – as are products to help firms to manage regulatory compliance."

Claus Egge, IDC’s programme director for European storage systems research, said this year suppliers are talking about tiered storage systems, which are being used by some companies already, but not, for example, about future concepts such as information lifecycle management (ILM).

"ILM is out there on the horizon, but not here or now. At CeBit we are addressing the market needs for the next year or so," he said.

Security is once again a key theme of the CeBit show, with a focus on mobile device security this year.

Visitors to the stand of security software firm Kaspersky Lab are able to download specialist security software straight onto their handheld devices.

In networking, Cisco and Lucent are discussing converged voice, data and video networks, and intelligent storage networking, which is designed to automate the transfer of data across a storage infrastructure.

In the server market, Fujitsu Siemens is launching a dual-operating system mainframe at CeBit – the SX150 – based on Sun’s Sparc64 V processor.

Alongside business technology, the digital home is also high on the agenda, with products including home networks, media hubs and PVRs (hard-disc-based personal video recorders).

With growth in the enterprise segment in low single-digits, suppliers want to extend their reach into the consumer market, said Macehiter.

This year at CeBit there is a strong emphasis on IT innovations, particularly from the UK and New Zealand.

For example, UK firm Mantic Point Solutions will show a product that uses radio frequency identification to tag and track mobile assets in hospitals.

New Zealand firm NextWindow will demonstrate gesture recognition technology, which allows people to access services and information from a computer screen with a wave of the hand.

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