Technology of the Year 2017: The best hardware, software, and cloud services

InfoWorld's 2017 Technology of the Year Award winners recognize the best tools and technologies for developers, IT pros, and businesses

Technology of the Year 2017: The best hardware, software, and cloud services
Jane Van Ginkel

Looking over the winners of the 2017 Technology of the Year Awards, you can’t help but be struck by the startling number of open source projects. For several years now, we’ve watched as the more groundbreaking projects -- like Hadoop and MongoDB and AngularJS -- leapt from our Best of Open Source Software Awards packages into the rarified air of the Technology of the Year Awards, taking their place not only among the best open source software but among the best products period.

This year, open source has finally tipped the balance. Among the 32 winners, at least 20 are either open source projects, cloud versions of open source projects, or commercial products with an open source core. The true number is probably higher, considering that many of the other winners are cloud services, which undoubtedly stand on open source foundations and may use open source in their secret sauce.

If any doubts remained, I think we can put them to rest now: Open source is how the best and most innovative software is made today. Even Microsoft seems to have recognized this fact.

Also striking is the number of winners this year that were born in the cloud. LinkedIn was forced to reinvent the message broker to process a trillion messages per day. Facebook created a way to build mobile apps in JavaScript and still achieve native performance. Google created a posh machine learning and neural network library to power its many intelligent cloud services. These companies shared these tools via open source projects, and now their software is reinventing stream processing, mobile development, and data analysis for the rest of us.  

Facebook and Google each have a few products in our winner’s circle this year. Microsoft takes multiple prizes as well, including one for Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Is it because Anniversary Update is finally the Windows 10 we’ve been waiting for? No, not exactly. It’s because Anniversary Update marks an important shift in Windows management, opening the door to managing PCs like iPhones. This is still a work in progress for Microsoft, but the days of needing separate systems to manage PCs and mobile devices are numbered.

One last observation gleaned from the 2017 award winners: Security is hot. The internet may not be getting safer, but security vendors and cloud providers are rising to the challenge with clever new defenses. We call out an Apache project using machine learning and other advanced analytics to identify malicious network traffic, a cybersecurity platform that neutralizes attackers through deception, and tools that address application security right where it starts, with developers.

You might say we’re witnessing a renaissance in information security. But you could say that about pretty much any category of computing today. The twin engines of innovation that we call open source and the cloud are creating new and better ways to do almost anything a computer processor can do. Look to the 2017 Technology of the Year Award winners for the best that this golden age has to offer.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.