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10 Things for 2005, Continued

As I mentioned last week, this is the completion of my own list of events that should happen in 2005, even though they probably won't. If you missed the first five items, you can read them here. If you're not interested, you can at least be relieved that this is the only list I have compiled to date.

6. The Linux controversy is resolved, providing a means for open source software in its many forms to continue moving forward. Given the speed at which the U.S. legal system advances, this one might be a real stretch, but enterprises might finish the year with some guidance on their use of open source in general and Linux in particular. This will be essential for anyone seeking to make further investments in such software as a part of an overall strategic direction.

I am a layman with regards to the legal arguments involved, and many more learned opinions than mine are readily available (http://www.groklaw.net/). But it seems to me as though open source software is bound tightly and perhaps irrevocably to software development efforts in thousands of companies and other organizations, and an adverse ruling has the potential to create havoc. And I don't think that anyone can safely predict how the U.S. legal system will respond.

7. On another legal note, a disaster or critical system failure will bring the issue of application quality to legal, regulatory, and legislative authorities. Those of us who have been intimately involved with the software industry for a number of years can only marvel at the resiliency of our most critical systems. While the systems themselves might fail, they either have backup systems or they tend to fail in a safe mode (as characterized by counterexample in the 1964 movie Fail-Safe).

But it might not appear that way to those responsible for ensuring public safety and integrity. So once a software failure is shown to cause significant harm or expense, it will be the beginning of a trend to mandate higher software quality and greater system reliability. This might ultimately manifest itself in additional certifications of software beyond what we have today (such as Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification, found at http://www.rtca.org/), or even certification of software engineering skills.

8. Again on a related note, platform alternatives to Microsoft and Java start to emerge onto the market. I draw upon my experience in observing the software industry for more than two decades to observe that while most software consumers crave stability and standardization, entrepreneurs note movement in this direction as a signal to innovate and offer alternatives.

We appear to be in one such period of platform consolidation, and might be ripe for an explosion of new technologies. Linux certainly qualifies as an alternative platform, but its widespread acceptance will be dependent on the outcome of its legal case. Even if it prevails in the courts, it might have too much of a geek reputation to be broad-based. But I have no doubt that there are others that are cooking and might start to reach the market in 2005. Innovation abhors stability.

9. Application integration becomes standardized. The collection of technologies that fall under the umbrella of application integration is one of the most important issues that businesses face today. You might wonder how I get so excited about this. Organizations today have discrete software systems managing just about every phase of the business, and there are few efficiencies that can still be driven from individual business processes.

But there are still substantial efficiencies that can be obtained once data from processes is combined, analyzed, and acted upon in the aggregate. That's because those processes don't act in a vacuum; they influence, and are influenced by, other things that happen in the organization. And common ways of making this happen mean that the combination won't be haphazard and work for some applications but not others.

10. In a similar vein, connections in general will become more important than applications in 2005. Two things have presaged this. First, we've wanted our various mobile gadgets to talk to one another, and to our computers. Second, networking, especially wireless networking, has become so easy that many otherwise technically disinclined people are running Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other networks to exchange data between devices.

This heralds a new direction for applications. New applications will be based on the availability of data from several or more individual applications. Application developers who focus on the availability of services from several devices and their applications are likely to find receptive markets.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 01/10/2005 at 1:15 PM


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