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Top 5 consumerization of IT news stories of 2011

It was a big year for consumerization as personal mobile devices and cloud services made serious inroads with businesses. Count down the stories that really got people talking.

The consumerization of IT really took off in 2011. As IT departments struggled to deal with the influx of personal mobile devices and cloud services, vendors jumped in with management software, security tools and enterprise-friendly competitors to consumer technologies. But an increasingly tech-savvy base of end users made it difficult to keep up with the latest technologies and their potential threats.

These top five consumerization of IT news stories cover the most-talked-about consumer products in the enterprise and the emerging technologies for integrating these products into the business world:

5. Mobile virtualization comes to market

The concept of mobile virtualization is not new, but in 2011, the technology finally became a reality. VMware launched its mobile virtualization service, Horizon Mobile, at VMworld Europe in October. Horizon Mobile uses VMware’s Mobile Virtualization Platform to create two separate environments on one Android phone -- one for personal use and one for business. Administrators can then use VMware’s Horizon Mobile Manager to monitor, secure and deploy apps to the business environment. Mobile virtualization does help IT control personal smartphones in the enterprise, but experts said it has limited use cases and VMware’s lack of support for non-Android devices will hurt adoption.

4. Ice Cream Sandwich: The great Android unifier?

The problem of Android fragmentation -- different devices running different operating systems with different update schedules -- persisted throughout 2011. November’s Droid Incredible Android 2.3 update fiasco was just one example. But some saw hope with the October debut of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is designed to run on tablets as well as smartphones. (Android 3.0 Honeycomb is a tablet-specific operating system.)  Ice Cream Sandwich features a new user interface, more granular data-usage controls and new APIs for security and VPNs. The new OS made its U.S. debut on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in December. 

3. Personal clouds move to the enterprise

Personal cloud storage and collaboration services had a breakout year in 2011. As more end users turned to these services to fill their needs at work, companies such as Dropbox, Box and YouSendIt added more features to help IT control and secure corporate data in their clouds. Traditional enterprise IT vendors also got in on the act: Microsoft released an iPhone app for its SkyDrive cloud service, Citrix Systems announced its own cloud storage and collaboration services and VMware previewed Project Octopus.   

2. Downfall of RIM

To say Research in Motion (RIM) did not have a good year in 2011 would be a huge understatement. The BlackBerry manufacturer saw its stock price drop by about 80%, its PlayBook tablet flopped, a global BlackBerry outage enraged customers and the iPhone took the top spot in the enterprise market. Oh, and RIM’s next-generation OS -- which the company had to change the name of after a lawsuit -- was delayed until the end of next year. In a clear sign that RIM knows its device business is in trouble, the company launched BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a cross-platform mobile device management service, in November.

1. Death of Steve Jobs

Say what you will about Steve Jobs as a person or the cult-like following he developed, but there’s no denying his influence on the consumerization of IT. In many ways, he was the father of consumerization. With Jobs as CEO, Apple paid little attention to enterprise customers, focusing on sleek, easy-to-use products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Customers loved the iPhone so much that they started using it for work, opening the door for other consumer products and services in the enterprise -- and raising expectations that enterprise software should be as user-friendly and effective as consumer technology.

Jobs passed away Oct. 5, one day after Apple launched the iPhone 4S.

Colin Steele is senior site editor for Email him and follow him on Twitter @colinsteele.

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