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AJAX and Microsoft's Atlas To Dominate the Shape of i-Technology

Informal Survey Concludes This Will Be A Vintage Year for Software Development

According to SYS-CON's worldwide network of software development activists, evangelists, analysts and executives, 2006 promises to be a vintage year for software development...with IE7, Atlas, and AJAX featuring prominently.

Take Microsoft, for example: A new client OS is on the way, Microsoft Vista, due late in 2006, giving rise to the obvious question: Will the new cool 3D user interface be enough to move the user to upgrade? We'll see. Maybe the new built-in security, performance features, and integrated search will be enough to convince users - after all, why go to the Web if built-in Web-enabled services and integrated information search allow the Web to come to you?

Or consider the world of PDA devices. Everyone is looking for the next killer Palm or BlackBerry, but are they looking in the right direction for the next killer PDA? What about unexpected places - for example, Nintendo? Check out the new Nintendo DS: Could you imagine it running Pocket PC or Palm OS? That would make a very cool gadget. What about the iPod? Have you seen the new iTunes-enabled Cingular Phone? It could be closer than you think.

On the pages that follow you'll find the collected wisdom of some of the most acute prognosticators in the industry. As always with JDJ and SYS-CON Media, we don't ask pundits and sideline commentators but activists, folks whose connection with software development and/or the software industry is daily, intense, and driven by real-world concerns of ROI and the business case for innovation, not just innovation for innovation's sake.

As ever, please don't hesitate send us your own thoughts. "None of us is as smart as all of us," they say, a philosophy that has even spawned a book (The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations by James Surowiecki,). We will publish a roundup of readers' predictions in the February issue of Java Developer's Journal.

Let's begin this year's roundup with the predictions for 2006 of Mitchell Kertzman, now at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners but still famous for having been the founder and CEO of Powersoft, which merged with Sybase in February 1995. When someone with over 30 years of experience as a CEO of public and private software companies tips LAMP, for example, it lends a certain credence to an already strong trend that we have sought to cover in SYS-CON Media's various publications such as LinuxWorld Magazine and over at http://OpenSourceEnterprise.com.

MITCHELL KERTZMAN
AJAX, LAMP, Virtualization, SaaS, Open Source

Since I'm in venture capital now, I try to put my (and others') money where my mouth is, so my predictions will tend to match up with my portfolio.

In no particular order:

  1. Rich application interfaces, including (but not exclusively) AJAX. Enterprise developers/IT managers have finally realized that the browser interface was a step backward to the 3270 and forms mode. That was good enough for a while, but not anymore.
  2. LAMP in the enterprise. If you follow my portfolio company, ActiveGrid, you'll find one of the leaders of the J2EE app server market now offering a far easier-to-build and less-expensive-to-deploy platform.
  3. Virtualization. With three strong virtualization platforms (VMWare, Microsoft Virtual Server, and XenSource) now available, there will be more and more software products built not on traditional hardware/software platforms but on virtualized platforms. Check out Akimbi Systems, which provides a very exciting application for QA and testing in the enterprise.
  4. 2006 will be the year of acceptance of the importance of roles in the world of identity management and provisioning. Bridgestream is the leader in role management integrating with the leaders in identity management, directory services, and provisioning.
  5. The two trends that will not be new for 2006 but that will continue their growth are Software as a Service (SaaS) or on-demand software and open source, which continues to find acceptance in the enterprise.
Our next set of predictions comes from Jim Milbery, CTO for Chicago Growth Partners in Chicago with 30-plus companies under his wing (.NET, Java, ColdFusion, Python - "you name it," as he says). He also acts as the "virtual CTO" for a number of companies in his portfolio.

JIM MILBERY
SANs, AJAX, Web 2.0, Blog consolidation, InfoSec

  1. Data storage: The proliferation of blogs and the raw size of XML documents (and everything is XML these days) are going to drive us to a new emphasis on storage (SANs in particular).
  2. AJAX everywhere: IE gets new life out of the proliferation of AJAX. More high-profile sites are going to adopt AJAX as a means of extending the life of the browser in the near term. We may even see the return of some application-development tools around AJAX (something more than just component libraries).
  3. Dashboard apps: Even with the proliferation of AJAX we are going to see a serious rise in client-specific apps that are based on Web 2.0 technologies - think iTunes.
  4. Blogging acid-reflux: The massive interest in blogging continues to rise, but reliance and confidence in individual blogs sags; high-profile blogs that are industry-specific begin to dominate and provide a bit of "editing" to the process.
  5. William Strunk Jr. rolls over in his grave: The illustrious author of The Elements of Style officially rolls over in his grave. I thought that basic writing skills were bad as seen in e-mail documents, but blogging takes things to a whole new level of poor grammar and punctuation.
  6. Information security: We start to get serious about protecting applications during the coding process, not just as an afterthought.
Next up is Alan Williamson, technology evangelist for SpikeSource and distinguished former editor-in-chief of JDJ, as well as chief architect of BlueDragon.

ALAN WILLIAMSON
Java, BitTorrent, Googlecrash, Adobe, IE

Here are my modest predictions for 2006:

  1. Java has been in the dark for the past few years; its time to come back around again is here. Sun has some interesting initiatives in the pipeline.
  2. The movie industry will wake up to BitTorrent (and the likes) and actually figure out a way to utilize this revolution instead of trying to close it down. You can't push back the tide. The BBC is going to be launching BBC2 as the first broadband television channel in 2006.
  3. Google shares fall or even crash. Everything that goes up has to come down and, contrary to popular belief, they aren't the biggest player on the Internet and people will start distrusting them as Microsoft and Yahoo! crank up their offerings.
  4. In fear of Microsoft Vista (and AJAX), Adobe will offer all Flash development tools for free, which will result in a major surge in adoption.
  5. IE7 will probably more than likely eclipse Firefox again.
From Alan Williamson we move to another uber geek, Danny Ayers - technical author, Semantic Web developer and blogger, who "got rather carried away," as he put it. But his 10 predictions all have an uncanny ring of truth to them.

DANNY AYERS
SOA, REST, Single Sign-On, SemWeb, iComm, Structured Blogging

  1. A consortium will identify and strongly promote a subset of the WS-* stack, leading to an acceleration in the growth of SOA. Meanwhile there will be a significant increase in deployment of purely REST-based services. HTTP will be sexy again.
  2. IBM, Sun, and Oracle will announce a joint identity management initiative, with Google's single sign-on being the leading competitor.
  3. The rebranding of the Semantic Web as "Semantic Technologies" and "Web of Data" will enable previously dismissive pundits to hype it as the Next Big Thing. There will be real growth in these areas, but not as yet meteoric. Yahoo! will reveal its answer to Google Base, built using Semantic Web technologies. Nokia will join VoIP to the Semantic Web.
  4. Mobile devices will become still more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. There will be a growth in "base station" software and smarter notification and synchronization between the desktop/LAN and mobile device. Apple will explode onto the mobile phone market with their iComm, which will include a new user interface paradigm and make Star Trek noises.
  5. Support for RSS in Microsoft Vista and Internet Explorer 7 will be indistinguishable from Windows 95's Active Channels, following the company's removal of new features due to security concerns. There will be massive growth in enterprise-oriented knowledge management systems based on RSS and Atom. There will be a new generation of RSS/Atom aggregators exploiting data published using XHTML microformats and Structured Blogging.
  6. Traditional search engines will increasingly be augmented with metadata-based directed query capabilities, initially driven by keyword tagging, but increasingly with reference to "Semantic Technologies." Social networks will become a factor.
  7. A new market in commodity packages combining data storage and protocol support will begin to appear. These packages will allow plug-in scalability and cross-system synchronization, with implementations being built variously on Grid architectures, Atom Stores, general XML stores, and RDF triplestores. Google will release a boxed Data Appliance Solution, with replication on their own servers.
  8. Service mash-ups will become increasingly sophisticated, with microcompanies able to compete head-on with the big companies' portals.
  9. While advertising will become more sophisticated in its targeting, user attention tracking will lead to other revenue sources becoming more attractive, and the feedback loop from online opinions to product development in the real world will begin to close. Market research will begin to counterbalance search engine optimization as the road to fortunes.
  10. A clear divide will appear between companies that approach the Web in a participatory fashion and those that produce a 21st century networked version of the shrink-wrap product. The continuing growth of open source will drive the companies in the latter group to attempt increasingly desperate measures to counter the decline in their revenue. More ridiculous patents will be granted, existing ones will be stretched to the limit in courts. Lawyers will make lots of money.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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