For the past few issues I've been telling you about the IT Roadmap '06 tour and the show has finally arrived. Yesterday the tour opened in Framingham, Mass. If you're in the Washington D.C., Chicago or Orange County area over the next few days and you want to attend, you still could register for the event if you call Dori Smith, our event registrar at 1-800-643-4668. At the event, Network World President John Gallant and Nemertes Research President and Chief Research Officer Johna Till Johnson will tell attendees what will be the next big thing in IT for 2006. They'll also cover the 10 Commandments to the successful deployment of next-generation technology (see the first six here).I caught up with Johna before the show and asked her what should be top of mind for IT execs over the next 12 months. Here's our Q&A:Q: What have been the top 3 IT issues that have come to the fore since IT Roadmap '05 last year?1. Information stewardship, which is the art and science of ensuring that information is effectively managed across an enterprise. Information stewardship encompasses the five disciplines of information protection, business-continuity planning\/disaster recovery, information lifecycle management, compliance, and data quality management.2. Mobility has become front-and-center of enterprise minds (more than 70% of enterprises say they have a "mobility" strategy, up from less than half last year).3. Virtual and distributed workers continue to be critical - I'd say there's a huge uptake in awareness regarding virtual and distributed workers.It's also worth noting that convergence has gained momentum and continues to gain momentum. Finally, other trends worth highlighting are service-oriented architectures and "on-demand infrastructure."Q: What did you predict would happen at last year's show and did any of your predictions come true?We didn't do a lot of crystal ball gazing, but generally speaking, the trends we highlighted continue to be important.The trends towards virtualization continue unabated - VMware, for example, has become even more popular than it was last year. Mobility - that was one of our 10 Commandments, and clearly, it has continued to be an issue. Open-source has continued to grow in importance.Q: The subject of this year's show is "What's New, What's Next and What to Buy?" So what is your answer to these questions?Come to the event and find out!Q: Should net execs continue to look at IT infrastructure maintenance issues - such as network\/system management, consolidation and security - next year or is it finally time to try out new stuff, and if so, what new stuff?Say what?!?! "Have you stopped kicking your dog yet?"This is one of those questions for which, as phrased, there's no right answer. Dismissing management and security as "IT infrastructure maintenance issues" with the notion that it is somehow something that can be discarded at some point - I could not disagree more emphatically!In a virtualized environment, network and systems management are going to become even more critical. In fact, having an effective network\/systems management architecture will become one of the most critical steps IT executives can take in the next 3 years. It's no longer "about" just monitoring and reporting on what's going on - the challenge lies in effectively and dynamically provisioning shared resources (network bandwidth, compute cycles, storage) to ensure optimum application performance.Security becomes an increasingly critical part of this overall story (see below) - far from being an "IT infrastructure maintenance issue," it's the linchpin and cornerstone of next-generation architectures. If I can't share resources securely WITHIN an organization, how can I share them securely ACROSS organizations? And if I can't do that - how do I obtain the benefits of externalization and system-to-system connectivity that next-generation infrastructures are all about.Q: Is security still going to be a huge challenge next year, and if so, where? At the perimeter, inside the firewall, at the endpoint, or somewhere else?We ain't seen nothing yet. In 2005, security budgets averaged 4% of the overall IT budget. We (Nemertes) believe this percentage will have to DOUBLE to ensure companies are effectively meeting their requirements when it comes to compliance, information protection and mobile computing.We've gotten away with underfunding security for years, but the threats are mounting, the challenges growing, and the costs of failure have increased exponentially. You can no longer afford to ignore or underfund security.That said, we've pretty much divided security technology into two categories: Table-stakes and "next-generation enablers." VPNs, firewalls, and anti-malware (spam, viruses, spyware) are "table stakes" - if you haven't implemented effective solutions here, put down this article and run (do not walk) to the nearest vendor\/service provider to get your infrastructure built out. If a virus can still take out your organization for hours or days, you aren't doing your job.Next-generation enables things like identity management, distributed denial-of-service protection, and things like intrusion detection\/prevention. You'll need these technologies to make the leap to next-generation architectures (networking, data centers, remote\/virtual workers, etc).Q: Which IT innovation is most going to make a strategic impact across the enterprise in 2006 and how should net execs prepare for it?Hard to single out just one. The trend towards on-demand or services-oriented infrastructure will force companies to completely rethink a wide-ranging list of issues, including everything from outsourcing to security.Q: Of the 10 Commandments to the successful deployment of next-generation technology, which is the single most-important?Which one of your kids is the prettiest?I'm not being coy, but there truly is no single answer. The answer depends on what kind of company you are, i.e., what your business objectives, profit margins, workforce makeup, industry and geographic scope happens to be. That's why we at Nemertes have created the Peer Profile (SM) Group segmentation model, in order to answer that question appropriately for a wide range of companies.