Game-changers: 10 potentially huge technologies

The iPhone caused a tectonic shift in the tech landscape -- what else out there will change our lives?

SSD should be less expensive on an IOPS basis than Fibre Channel, Warner says, but will likely work out to be more from a per-gigabyte basis. "It depends on if people size their system for performance or capacity," he says.

"If you have an application or a database which needs a speed boost, why fiddle with expensive and complicated FibreChannel, InfiBand or iSCSI SAN solutions?" Yankee's Breen asks, noting that the SSD option is easier to manage and will cost less than existing enterprise storage products.

9. Speech-to-text and e-mail integration

Voice mail transcription is an up and comer because it shows how communication technologies are unifying -- you can listen to voice mail on the Web, forward the text of a message, hold an audioconference and record messages.

Enterprise users have enjoyed speech-to-text services in Microsoft Exchange and Cisco Unified Communication for years. The current version of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging can send you an e-mail with a voice mail attached so you can hear it. But the 2010 beta -- released just a few weeks ago -- includes a feature that transcribes the voice mail and sends it as an e-mail.

"As an IT buyer, I can receive 10 to 20 voice mails in a day, mostly cold calls from vendors. While my UC system delivers my voice mail via my e-mail, I still have to listen to the message and follow up accordingly," says Breen. "Speech to text would save me time each day" because it is easier and faster to read e-mail than to listen to an entire voice mail, he says.

There are other unified communications features coming out, too. These days, you're probably juggling a lot of different phone numbers. For example, you might have a personal cell phone, a desk phone, a home phone and a business smartphone. Google Voice is a phone-number aggregator that automatically dials whichever phone number you want. The free service's most-impressive feature, though, is voice-mail transcription.

10. Open PC cases

BMW designed a case for the ThermalTake PC as a prototype called Level 10 and came up with an open architecture that makes it easy to swap components. The design reduces heat buildup and just looks cool. The Antec Skeleton has a similar open design with layered trays for easy access, a massive 250mm top-mounted fan and -- at about 20 pounds fully loaded -- at least a degree of portability for LAN parties, in which gamers get together in a home or office to play games over a network.

The open design means fewer headaches when it comes to upgrades, and there is very little dust accumulation. Moving away from the standard ATX enclosure size (the beige box of yesteryear) means computer cases may finally transmogrify into any shape -- not just as a custom case made by home enthusiasts, but as mass-produced models that look as great in the living room as they do in the office.

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John Brandon

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