The year's best hardware, software, and cloud services
InfoWorld's Test Center unveils the 2012 Technology of the Year AwardsFollow @peterwayner
It's worth noting that two of the development tools we chose this year are exclusively for the mobile platforms, one of the cloud's natural partners. There may be BSD and Linux buried under the surface of our smartphones, but no one is supposed to spend much time on that layer. The explosion of handheld power is tightly linked to cloud-based services. We gave awards to both PhoneGap and Rhomobile Rhodes for simplifying the creation of mobile applications that run smoothly on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and even a few more.
Wait until next year
The explosion of mobile devices means that the migration away from the desktop is accelerating a bit -- despite what we said above about Office 2010. Just a few years ago, the word "mobile" was just a niche for selling to customers on the go while helping the traveling sales force check in with HQ. Now the proliferation of tablets means that more and more people in the enterprise will do more and more of their work on thin, light, battery-powered, wireless devices running mobile OSes, not desktop OSes. We expect we'll be repeating the word "mobile" as often as "cloud" in the years to come.
Our list is far from complete, of course. We left off NoSQL databases but not because they were a tired backwater with no innovation. No -- we didn't know where to begin to choose. Not only is the number of tools proliferating, but there's also a growing understanding of the striking amount of variety in our needs. Some folks need logging for data that's rarely used. Others want a certain amount of redundancy but not too much. Still others want to track personal information across a highly sharded cloud. In the end, we couldn't begin to pick one or two that were clearly ahead of the pack because the pack (Oracle included) was doing so well and heading off in so many directions.
There are probably a number of other products that belong on this list, but we had to draw a line somewhere. The good news is that we're condemned to repeat this exercise next year when we can remember the very best tools once again. As the cloud stacks and the mobile ecosystems continue to build up the momentum, we have a pretty good idea where to look for them.
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