Longhorn falls short
Winning the General Francisco Franco-is-still-dead award for 2004 is Microsoft’s Longhorn. In August, the company announced it was taking one of the key components of the operating system, the WinFS file system, out of the first version, which is still not expected until late 2006 at the earliest. Without WinFS, the debut of Longhorn, which has been talked about for more than three years, will lose much of its shine. The first locked-down beta is now scheduled for the fourth quarter in 2005.
Microsoft officials reasoned that taking WinFS out will make it easier for users to transition from Windows XP, meanwhile still promising to deliver other critical components, including Avalon and Indigo. Some users were mildly disappointed but hardly surprised.
“We were never holding our breath waiting for this. [WinFS] eventually will be an important technology, but let’s just say we have more important issues to deal with for the next two years,” said Ronald Dawkins, CIO of a financial services company in the Chicago area.
The great peacemaking
Previously bitter rivals, Microsoft and Sun forged a cooperative agreement on interoperability in several technology areas, including Web services and the deployment of Java on Windows. Both companies, however, share a competitive threat with Linux. Still, the possibilities intrigued IT leaders.
“We really are working toward a world where both Sun and Microsoft products coexist,” said Greg Papadopoulas, CTO of Sun.
Tech trends of the year
In the applications field, companies are discovering that the customer matters. The vice president of marketing at nearly every major enterprise company now claims their company is customer-centric.
“CRM has had a rebirth as a strategic core of functionality in the enterprise,” said Joshua Greenbaum, principal partner at Enterprise Applications Consulting.
BI software, for its part, had a banner year, and it looks even better for 2005. New regulatory requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley are fueling the growth of BI.
This past year did not see any solutions to lingering security problems. Government regulations, worsening spam, and the escalating problem of e-mail-born virus attacks forced many enterprises to fortify messaging security and look for broader technology approaches to the problems. Messaging security tools that formerly zeroed in on the well-known spam plague expanded their arsenal to fend off messaging-born viruses, phishing scams, and compliance violations.
If there was one acronym in the application deployment space that highlighted 2004, it was SOA (service-oriented architecture). An SOA enables applications to be deployed loosely as services, with quick changes to the architecture a key benefit -- as opposed to traditional, unwieldy, monolithic deployments. Web services technologies are key in an SOA paradigm. Seemingly all the big players, from BEA Systems to IBM, Oracle, and Sun, seek a dominant role.
Web services standardization crept along in 2004, with BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) for Web Services, the BEA-, IBM-, and Microsoft-authored specification, being established as a de facto industry standard. Specifications such as Web Services-ReliableMessaging also gained traction.
For storage, 2004 was rife with activity as IT managers moved more and more storage onto networks, added tiered storage installations, and designed storage installations to better handle business continuity issues. Products of note ranged from Hitachi’s 32-petrabyte TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform to Dell’s AX100 that starts at 48GB. Storage vendors also began to embrace virtualization, with IBM shipping its storage virtualization product and EMC demonstrating a storage router planned for 2005.
A storage theme that could be applied throughout the datacenter in 2004 was ease in IT management. “Companies are looking to better control their data, whether it is in a centralized storage area or at a remote office,” said Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Data Mobility Group.
Read more about applications in InfoWorld's Applications Channel.