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Where's i-Technology Headed in 2007?

Annual Poll of Industry Prognosticators

IT Enabled Services . Web TV . Visual AJAX IDE Microsoft Atlas . Apache XAP

COACH WEI
Founder, Chairman, & CTO, NexaWeb

Here are my submissions:

  1. IT Enabled Services is going to fly high in 2007. As a result, we will see:
    a.  A lot more venture capital investments into IT Enabled Services;
    b.  Of course, a lot of startup activities in IT Enabled Services (new company creation, merger and acquisition);
    c.  There will be some significant moves made by "traditional, big companies" into IT Enabled Services too. For example, some of the possibilities are:
    i.  Massive reality shows on the Web, instead of being on TV. Can you imagine "American Idol" on the Web? Speaking of this, I think highly of Yahoo's initiative into this area, including its recent acquisition of Bix.
    ii.  A major entertainment company (NBC, ABC, etc.) fully embracing Web TV.
  2. AJAX grows up - which means the following are available and useable:
    a.  Visual AJAX IDE (solving the ease-of-development issue. Most likely based on Eclipse ATF);
    b.  Declarative AJAX Framework (solving the ease-of-development issue. Most likely based on Microsoft Atlas and Apache XAP);
    c.  Adoption of AJAX within less leading-edge enterprises.
    d.  AJAXWorld Conference overtakes JavaOne conference. JavaOne is being renamed as JavaScriptOne Conference.
  3. Growing adoption of Web 2.0 technologies within the enterprise
    a.  Enterprise Mashup Server emerges as a product category.
    b.  Less leading-edge companies start to adoption Web 2.0 technologies.
  4. The IPO market shows signs of opening up
    a.  One or two Web 2.0 companies go public, the majority of the exits are acquisitions.
    b.  An increase of IPO filings and going public.
WS-BPEL 2.0 . BPM & Web 2.0 . SOA . XSLT . JSON

JOHN EVDEMON
Architect, Microsoft, with the Architecture Strategy Team focusing on BPM and SOA

E.F. Schumacher, a well-known British economist, once wrote: "I cannot predict the wind but I can have my sail ready." With that thought in mind here are ten predictions and hopes to help get your sails ready for 2007:

1.  The WS-BPEL 2.0 specification will finally be approved as an OASIS standard. Adoption of WS-BPEL will initially be slow, driven by customer demand. BPEL will evolve beyond a "check box requirement" if people begin using it as a foundation for defining process profiles (conceptually similar to how people use WS-Security today). An updated mapping from BPMN to WS-BPEL will also be published.

2.  The convergence of BPM and Web 2.0 begins. BPM is about improving performance by optimizing key processes. Web 2.0 is about capturing the wisdom of crowds (or as O'Reilly puts it, the architecture of participation). The convergence of BPM and Web 2.0 enables collaborative development and tagging of sub-processes, establishing a "process folksonomy" where the best processes can evolve organically. Collaboration can occur over simple but highly scalable pub/sub mechanisms (like Atom or SSE). Lightweight tools will enable users to model or reuse sub-processes using a broad set of metadata. While this is an exciting opportunity, there are several technical and non-technical issues that must be addressed before this convergence becomes a reality.

3.  Improvements in SOA management and governance. Tools, frameworks and platforms will emerge that better enable:

  • Defining and enforcing service development guidelines
  • Modeling, managing and enforcing operational policies (e.g., security, service level agreements and others)
  • Service simulations (what-if scenarios, impact analysis, etc.)
  • Modeling and managing service dependencies
  • Service provisioning and de-provisioning
  • Configuration management
4.  Workflow isn't confined to the datacenter anymore. Lightweight, extensible frameworks like Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) enable workflow in places where it may not have been previously considered.

5.  Better UI Experiences. Declarative user interfaces will enable rich user experiences that can be easily modified or extended with simple mechanisms like XSLT. Familiar business applications like Office provide the user interface to back-end line-of-business systems. The line between AJAX-based UIs and rich desktop UIs will blur, enabling users to enjoy both connected and occasionally-connected experiences. Tools and guidance will make building, testing and deploying these composite UI experiences much easier.

6.  A new category of architecture emerges: Software + Services. It is hard these days to find an architectural concept that is not some how tied to services. The line between Web services, SaaS and traditional applications will blur to the point where the location, contract and hosting of a service are less important than the capabilities exposed by the service.

7.  JSON without AJAX. We'll start to see more people using JSON to address the XML bloat problem outside of simple AJAX-based applications. The downside is that this may result in more tightly-coupled applications.

8.  Events and states instead of EDI-style messaging. Lightweight frameworks will empower developers to starting thinking about solutions in terms of event notifications instead of simple messages passing from point A to point B. Hierarchical state machines enable state synchronization across complex, federated processes.

9.  We stop talking about SOA and "just do it." Sometimes we spend more time arguing about IT trends than actually using them. In 2007 the tools and specifications we need for enterprise-strength, loosely-coupled solutions have finally arrived - it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

10.  IT finally admits that there is no silver bullet. Every year I hope to see this happen and every year my hopes are crushed by buzzword-of-the-minute hype machines. (Hey I can dream, can't I?)

AJAX Over-use . JSF . Relational Object Mapping . Macs

BILL DUDNEY
Editor-in-Chief, Eclipse Developer's Journal

  1. AJAX will continue to gain momentum as folks continue to have the epiphany that Web 1.0 UI is not good for users. Overuse of the technology will be a real problem. JSF will finally start to become a de facto as well as actual standard due to its ease of integration with AJAX.
  2. Open Source enablement will continue to be a hot spot for VC investment. I don't think the perfect business model will emerge in '07 though so the market will still remain 'immature.'
  3. Java Persistence API will bring relational object mapping to the long tail of the market. Early adopters will be wondering what all the hype is because the technology is so old in their eyes.
  4. Macs will continue their 'thought leader' adoption curve. This is not the year they start to penetrate the corporate IT department.
Web Service Orchestration . Web Services Explosion

ADAM KOLAWA
Co-Founder & CEO, Parasoft

1.  I anticipate a significant demand for Web service orchestration in the upcoming year, especially in the United States.

Many organizations now have at least one Web service, and a growing number already have two or more related Web services. Managing multiple related Web services is considerably more challenging than managing the same number of separate, unrelated Web services. To use these related Web services to achieve your business goals, you need to consider how high-level operations pass through the Web services, then determine how to implement this high-level flow- from start to finish. This can be accomplished in two ways:
- By programmatically coding the application logic required to tie the involved elements together.
- By using an orchestration tool to direct the flow through the involved elements, which remain separate.

I predict that the latter method will be the favorite because it is easier.

2.  I also expect an explosion of Web services because they are so easy to expose. Once exposed, Web services basically create interfaces which can be reused. This will significantly reduce the amount of code that needs to written, which will in turn cut the demand for "bare bones" development.

Server Virtualization . Container-Based Hosting . Linux Rails . Django . Agile Development

BRANDON HARPER
Senior Software Developer at Acxiom Corp.

The top five technology trends I see happening in the New Year are:

1.  Server virtualization is just getting started, and will really make itself known in the coming year. Once we start seeing the quad core CPU architectures as a part of standard infrastructure, it really starts making a lot of sense to start deploying and managing servers and applications as virtual entities rather than specific pieces of hardware. This helps manage the cost and pain of software configuration management, take advantage of being able to process many tasks simultaneously because of hardware support, as well as allows legacy hardware to be retired in favor of applications running on virtual servers.

2.  Container-based hosting is the new kid on the block, and will also start making its presence known in the upcoming year. Commonly labeled as "grid" hosting (which is a technical misnomer if you understand distributed computing), it essentially claims to be an infinitely scalable hosting platform. This technology still seems to be half-baked at the moment, but you could have said the same thing about Linux ten years ago.

3.  People who normally wouldn't use Linux start to explore it and even replace Windows with it permanently. With Vista, Microsoft seems to be moving to a model in which the Windows operating system is a method to police users with DRM and other nonsense rather than provide developers with a good platform on which to use hardware, which is what operating systems are really supposed to be. A lot more consumers who haven't noticed this happening in the past will stand up and notice this year.

4.  Dynamic languages and frameworks will continue to make leaps in popularity and adoption. Given the current squeeze on technology talent in the US, companies are going to have to learn how to do more with fewer resources. Moving to dynamic languages and frameworks as well as other simplification such as varying Agile software development practices will enable this to take place. I think the obvious leading candidates here are Ruby on Rails and Django.

5.  The enterprise will embrace ways to simplify develop-ment by continuing to embrace open source software and Agile Development strategies. While there are a lot of cries to the effect of Ruby on Rails replacing Java, I think that's complete nonsense as Java is a language and Ruby on Rails is a framework. Rapid development languages will certainly make some inroads, particularly where heavy tools have been used to build simple applications, Java is still going to be a major part of the service-oriented enterprise for years to come because of the power and tools it provides as well as its industry support.

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