Remember push technology? Or virtual reality for the Web? Or Microsoft Bob? Some ideas are probably better left consigned to history. And yet the roadside of the information superhighway is littered with ideas that sounded promising but never quite made it to revolution status before dropping off IT’s radar.
Want examples? Look no further. InfoWorld proudly presents a top 10 list of hits that might have been but never really were. But you never know; if the right people are listening, some of these dreams might yet become reality.
The death of the mainframe
Experts have been sounding the death knell for the venerable mainframe since before the release of Windows 3.1. More than a decade later, the days of users meekly approaching the mainframe priesthood to ask for processor time are gone, to be sure, but those hulking boxes in the datacenter are far from dead.
In the 1990s, numerous companies launched IT projects designed to move applications off the mainframe and onto less expensive, more modern hardware. Unfortunately, many of those projects are still on the calendar or have been scrapped altogether.
As it turns out, some mainframe applications are quite difficult to replicate as Web applications, and the data-migration costs are astronomical. Then there’s the cost of retraining, the cost of software licensing, and the very real business risk of downtime. Despite the best of intentions, mainframes keep running.
To its credit, IBM has done more with big iron than simply maintain the status quo. Its latest mainframe hardware line, ironically named after dinosaurs, even supports Linux and Java, in addition to traditional z/OS software.
So are those customers who didn’t quit on the mainframe laughing all the way to the bank? Maybe -- if depositing funds to pay their leasing fees counts. But until the last of those legacy apps goes dark, we’ll consider reports of the mainframe’s death to be greatly exaggerated.
-- Paul Venezia
From its inception, Java was meant to conquer the world. Highly object-oriented, it was more elegant than earlier languages. You could write Java code once, and it would run anywhere. It was fast. It was reliable. It was secure. It was ... well, just about anything you could want from a development tool.
Given such outrageous hype to live up to, the extent to which Java has actually succeeded is truly incredible. And yet it’s hard to ignore its list of disappointments.
Applets were Java’s first dud. Macromedia snatched away the rich-media market, relegating client-side Java to the niche of cross-platform utilities and management tools. The language eventually found its audience on the server side. But by that time, years of ever-changing SDKs and elusive, often stillborn APIs had muddied its once-elegant design, confounding neophytes and making compatibility with earlier versions hopeless.