Conference highlights networking priorities for '06FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - Implementing VoIP, virtualizing storage and computers, and evaluating identity management are just some of the priorities for 2006 recommended to attendees of Network World's IT Roadmap '06 technology tour , which kicked off last week.The tour aims to delineate hot technologies for the coming year and how to implement them, and how they can align with business goals. It focused on eight areas: remote-office networking, LANs, application acceleration, VoIP, security, network management, storage and identity networking.For the most part, these areas line up with the IT priorities that one attendee has. "We need to do enterprise-to-enterprise collaboration to pull teams from different businesses together, and we're just starting to explore identity management," said Greg Weldon, director of service development with Philips Medical Systems in Andover, Mass. "We're looking at identity management from a device, network and application perspective, more than just people."One area that Weldon doesn't view as a priority is application acceleration. "It's just not a tremendous problem for us, as long as we invest in bandwidth," he says, adding that the company supports 4,000 field workers.Mapping the futureSuggestions for what to focus on in 2006 that were shared at Network World\u2019s IT Road map event last week:\u2022Assess VoIP; in particular examine the potential for bottom-line savings.\u2022Put in place a strategy for remote and virtual workers, because 90% of employees are somewhere other than headquarters.\u2022Create an information stewardship task force to define how to handle information protection, disaster recovery\/business continuity, information life-cycle management, compliance and data quality management.\u2022Virtualize the data center, both storage and computers.\u2022Put identity management on the front burner to facilitate \u201cvirtualized security.\u201dSOURCE: NEMERTES RESEARCHAt the conference Johna Till Johnson, president and senior founding partner of Nemertes Research and Network World columnist , detailed a five-year plan for businesses' network priorities.Much of the suggested planning for 2006 includes building task forces around key technology strategies, including information stewardship - which Johnson defined as the art and science of managing information in the data center - distributed and virtual workers, on-demand infrastructure and mobility. These task forces should help organizations evaluate how related technology can help boost productivity and make a positive affect on the organization's bottom line, as well as build deployment road maps and benchmarking initiatives.The technology that powers those strategies will come from a variety of areas, she said. Compliance, storage, security, identity networking and information life-cycle management products are necessary to support information stewardship. Keys to implementing a distributed and virtual workforce strategy are VoIP, real-time collaboration, application acceleration and remote-office management. Also essential ingredients for building an on-demand infrastructure are storage, information life-cycle management and application acceleration, while application acceleration and remote-office management are essential to mobility.To register for a tech tour coming to your area, click here .