I recently keynoted at the Network World Technology Tour on Next-Generation Data Centers. On one of our user panels, we discussed the top technologies IT execs should evaluate as part of their next-generation data center initiatives. The results were gratifyingly in line with the best practices that Nemertes promotes to its IT executive clients.Here\u2019s a recap:* VMWare. VMWare (recently purchased by EMC) makes products that enable virtual provisioning and management across a multiserver environment. Essentially, the software turns physical systems into a pool of logical computing resources, and dynamically allocates resources to operating systems, allowing IT execs to reduce ownership costs and more effectively deliver applications. The company also recently introduced 64-bit support. It\u2019s great stuff, and most of the IT executives who\u2019ve deployed it swear by it.* Web services. By using Web services, IT execs can reduce software development time by as much as 80%, according to our figures. With a Web services architecture, enterprises can also decrease the cost of software development, again by up to 80%. Nemertes research shows that the majority of folks who\u2019ve test-driven Web services are exceedingly satisfied with the outcome.* Open-source computing. Large data centers everywhere are looking at Linux as a way to reduce capital and support costs. One large high-tech firm was able to cut its costs from 25% to 90% by migrating from HP-UX to Linux for applications ranging from databases to Web servers.* Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS). I\u2019ll admit I was surprised to hear this from the data-center folks, though we\u2019ve been recommending MPLS-based services for some time to companies looking to converge voice, video and data. The big advantage that MPLS provides to the data center is any-to-any connectivity, which makes it easy for remote sites to seamlessly switch to a back-up data center in the case of outage (with frame relay and ATM, backup requires provisioning \u201cshadow\u201d permanent virtual circuits and\/or deploying switched virtual circuits - both of which add cost and complexity).* Thin-client computing. According to Nemertes research, 87% of employees work at remote offices - which means, as one of our IT execs put it, \u201cThe WAN is the critical piece of the data center.\u201d That means that anything that optimizes traffic across the WAN, such as thin-client applications, is key.* IP telephony. Again, not something you\u2019d associate with a data center, but IT execs consistently tell us they\u2019re seeing support cost savings and productivity enhancements by moving to IP telephony.* Blade computing. This one\u2019s divisive. About half the IT execs who\u2019ve tested it swear by it. The other half reject it due to the limited cost savings and power density issues (see our previous newsletter on the topic for details). Our best recommendation is to take a look, but make the decision that\u2019s right for you.Bottom line: Next-generation technologies are changing the way data centers are designed, architected and supported - and you\u2019ll want to carefully evaluate this set of technologies as part of your go-forward strategy.