What will happen in IT in 2007?

What will happen in IT in 2007?

Summary: By the end of the year the OpenSolaris community will be widely recognised as larger and more active than the Linux community -and every competing OS developer community except Microsoft's will have copied the key ideas including its organisational structure, the core provisions in the community development license, and Solaris specific technologies including ZFS and Dtrace.


Obviously the predictable stuff is predictable:


  1. Vista will make billions for Microsoft - driven by the warm embrace of those who hated the MacOS X interface when Microsoft didn't sell it;


  2. Itanium will continue on life support while Compaq, operating as HP, negotiates a way out with Intel;


  3. By the end of the year, the super computer listings will be entirely dominated by products built using IBM's cell processor -and the business applications performance benchmarks will be equally dominated by Sun's second generation CMT/SMP technologies.


  4. By the end of the year the OpenSolaris community will be widely recognised as larger and more active than the Linux community -and every competing OS developer community except Microsoft's will have copied the key ideas including its organisational structure, the core provisions in the community development license, and Solaris specific technologies including ZFS and Dtrace.

It gets more interesting when you step beyond the safe ground of the obvious stuff: for example, it's obvious that increasing public concern over the availability of identity information will, particularly in the United States, produce demands for political action - but it's not at all obvious what direction this will take or what the implications will be for IT management.

The big problem here, of course, is that in both the United States and most of Europe all the legislation needed is already on the books, what's missing is any willingness to enforce the law - sending, for example, the senior partners in an accounting firm to jail when some junior loses a laptop stuffed with pseudo-protected client data.

What's needed is first for someone in the United States to launch a national class action on behalf of the people affected by one of these "incidents," and secondly for the jury involved to vote substantial damages mainly on the basis of expert testimony to the effect that using Microsoft's client-server technologies to store and access identity related data is an industry dumbest practice. Completely obvious, of course, but also not likely to happen, so my guess is that a bad situation will simply continue to get worse during 2007.

Unfortunately whether an expected explosion of state level data management legislation will drive a corporate exodus to more failure friendly jurisdictions off shore to both Europe and the United States, or have the opposite effect - ending offshoring in favor of more local centers - will depend mostly on judicial interpretation of the initial legislation - and, as a coffee drinker, I have no tea leaves in that game.

What's obvious about some of 2006's hottest trends - SOA, Web 2.0 googlemania - is that these are acronyms covering contentless commentary and that neither the lack of substance nor the cheering will change as much as the acronyms do in 2007. In fact it's the cheering that's the point - something that's nicely echoed in "web 2" applications like YouTube and blogging where the essential emptiness of the nth echo chamber variation on a tiny set of common themes wears very thin, very quickly.

In that context, therefore, I'm going to predict that 2007 will see the beginnings of true structural convergence - meaning web based delivery of materials selected, controlled, and presented in traditional ways. Look, for example, for someone to offer a traditionally hosted "best of the web" video series comparable to TV's original "Real People" series, but presented in TV, multicast, and custom packaging.

Bottom line: you know what's going to be the best thing about IT in 2007? I do - it's that I don't have a clue how some of this stuff is going to play out. Will google go bye bye? will Linux resurge? will Apple license the PPC development rights for MacOS X to Microsoft? will Intel produce a credible product? will some HP executives finally go to jail? will Sun stop sabotaging Sun Ray? I have no idea - but you and I both have ring side seats - so bring it on already!



Topic: Operating Systems

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  • With all predictions

    It is important to draw the line between what one might want to happen and what one believes will happen.

    I think it is often the case that if you talk about what you believe will happen people often assume that this is what you want.

    Obviously I am certain that a great deal of largely undesirable and misguided developments will continue unabated in 2007 and as you correctly point out, the acronyms will change but the (lack of) substance will not - though on the whole it has been disturbing to discover that there is more than one three letter word with X in that makes men behave in a completely irrational manner.

    Regarding Vista I don't think take up will be very rapid. I think most businesses will stick with XP for quite a while yet.

    You're absolutely right about client server of course, I thought it was a daft idea right from the start, though I confess to using it. Maybe there is a need for something that looks and feels like a spreadsheet but is actually taking data from a central database: as far as the user is concerned they are "saving" a "file", whereas actually they are creating a view (or more properly, declaring a virtual relation variable).

    However I have now lapsed into my wish list rather than what might actually happen and client-server and n-tier will continue as "normal" rather than the 1.0001 tier approach that I would consider correct.
    • Oracle Office

      Did that (stored "files" as centralized DB records).. in the late 80s. And died in the market.
      • Um well

        Relational databases don't have "records", you're thinking like a DP guy again here. One of the reasons RDBMSs haven't realised their full potential is that lots of people are still thinking about them as glorified ISAM.

        If Oracle Office was just storing MS style Office files in the database as attributes than it doesn't really fit with what I am proposing.
        • Correction

          Representing the data of course, not storing it - it's so hard to remain immune from this file system type thinking, damn it!
  • Agreed

    As for predictions for IT in 2007, in the final analysis it's a 'crap shoot'.

    Thanks Murph for holding my interest throughout the year--it's been a doosy!

    Here's hoping everyone has a Happy, Healthy New Year!!

    D T Schmitz
  • interesting

    interesting predictions.
  • A difficulty for predictors...

    ... is the (self-imposed) requirement to find unexpected but not impossible predictions.

    As the tone of his essay shows, Mr. Murphy's main conclusion is that what IT does has been found, and the only variation is in ways to do it. Those ways will not involve the significantly different mechanisms advocated by those who have found a career in buzz-words.

    And so we are left to argue about whether next year's 20% uptake of Vista in the enterprise should be considered rapid or sluggish.

    I'll say rapid, because I prefer Roll-Ups with separate new feature downloads to service packs, and want to encourage Microsoft's new strategy.

    What do you think?
    Anton Philidor
    • Since you asked...

      As a M$-hater I obviously have problems with your prediction as to whether the 20% uptake of vista will be rapid or sluggish. My biggest problem is the question for me is "For how long will it be significant."

      I'm OS-Agnostic. I call myself a Luddite. And of course people ask me "Why do you like Linux?" Why shouldn't I? It's really fair to say I hate it less than I do the two proprietary because it gives me less grief when I try to do what I want than they do. I own my own mistakes.

      This is also true of Solaris and FreeBSD but I really don't have as much experience with them. For me one of the most important things about this past year was One Laptop Per Child. Another was Microsoft's denunciation of it.

      I like Red Hat. That's not why it's important. It is important because productivity is always such a problem in the third world. Jesus had a good reason for warning that the Poor are Always With Us. I recently had fun with someone who told me such things were irrelevant or not useful. I had him surf the web with a very old Thinkpad running Basic Linux. It didn't take him long to realize there was a lot out there, and he thought about asking me for the machine (I'd have given it to him). It's easy to forget how much of our recent productivity gains depend on basic computer literacy; not on C or some iteration of OOP.

      Getting $130 laptops into schools on any level in Ghana, Cameroons, even Cote d'Ivoire is a great and important thing.

      And Gates complained these machines didn't have enough functionality. I don't need the functionality to watch video all night on all my machines. Do you? Especially now it is so easy to burn disks to play in our DVD-player (still). There are many things you can do with our (still-bloated) machines, but the truth is, the market keeps growing and it keeps growing downward.

      Games have always been important to where computers are going, and let's take a look at game machines for a moment. Once upon a time there was a machine which it was a lot of fun to play called the Nintendo 64. Remember that? Much of the discussion about programming it consisted of invective and obscenity from people who were too tired and stressed from working on it to ever curse properly. Nintendo heard, and for their next act came out with the much simpler game cube. The programmers thanked them, but the fans didn't like the trade offs, and the word on the street is it was GameBoy that kept them significant. Nevertheless they understood that what really kept them significant was not scaring away the developers, so when their next model came out it was the Wii, with its revolutionary Wiimote for which Linux drivers have already been developed. The Wii is selling as fast as they can ship them and they are generating good press.

      Speaking of Linux, since people like to put it on anything, and Sony doesn't have the same attitude towards royalties as Nintendo (They have a very different attitude, not a looser one, just very different), when they saw what people were doing with their Playstation (PS1) they said, "Cool, let's see if we can make some money off this" and offered a Linux kit with the Playstation 2. Yes for between $200-$400 you could have a functioning Linux box which wasn't a big money maker but generated a lot of good will. When it came time to do their PlayStation 3, they said, "Oh boy. We can throw in Blu-Ray, and the Cell Processor, and this and that and we can use Linux as a development environment because it is stable and has mature elements already, and while we are at it we can save some taxes in some jurisdictions where game machines are taxed but computers aren't. Their developers pointed out that they had to pay royalties for their SDKs which hardly seemed fair when they were giving something away to hobbyists, and so they hired Yellow Dog to do a less powerful implementation of it because they too had to keep their developers happy. They've run into some very predictable production problems because of their use of such cutting edge technology and they are getting a lot of bad press so that even if they are also selling machines as fast as they can make them and couldn't that affect the purchasing decisions people are making? And of course someone has posted a video about how to install Gentoo on it.

      I see the extra features of Vista as making serious computing less affordable. The clearest example which comes to mind is cds. Most of the people I know who listen to a lot these day listen to Independent bands. Even MTV is something the kids I know who have cable don't bother with. They are just so put off by the expense of collecting music, and who can blame them?

      I don't like piracy, myself. I respect it the way I do most things which bite, but in our haste to define everything uncontrollable as piracy, we're making it more attractive.

      Further, while Nintendo appeared to fail the first time around, and are getting the press on the second iteration of the Game Cube idea, and may have legs with it, Sony or someone else may well have a PC/Game Machine which people will buy and/or use within the next five years and which may well have some Unix-derived OS as a cheap development environment. I just don't see why it has to be Linux and nothing personal fellers.

      We're in a phase where the market for what were very adaptable machines is being driven not by peoples' needs for them but by sometimes very artificial ideas about what these machines are and what they can and should do. I'm afraid if the big "Consumer oriented" sellers don't wake up, we will exactly be entering a phase where the market is entirely driven by piracy, because these tools are just too useful to give up.

      In that context, how does an OS which demands such intensive hardware and an internet connection to "validate" it seem worth encouraging?
      • We all have hobbies.

        Yours (or one of yours) is software.
        But software one uses at home because "I own my own mistakes." is not a threat to commercial products, especially mass market products. Not enough hobbyists or people philosophically opposed to paying for software or people who are just... restrained in their expenditures.

        So acknowledging your point does not contradict mine.

        The $100, $130, $150 laptop is going to be watched closely by anthropologists.

        As Bill gates has commented, the problem with it is the difficulty of connecting to the internet. He has been discussing use of cell phone technology.
        We'll see what happens technologically.

        More interesting, we'll see the effect of attitudes people have or develop. After all, the computers can do a great deal without being connected to the internet. Even, possibly, become part of local network.

        Will the people who receive the computers keep them or will they sell them for food? Will anyone buy them?
        (A potential problem is that the computers are designated cheap goods with less than standard software. Charity can be an insult.)

        Will the children who receive them value them, or will they be considered less significant than items their cultures have traditionally valued?
        Will the computers be considered a promise for the future or a toy?

        Will teachers acknowledge them, or ignore something with which they are unfamiliar?

        This isn't an argument in favor of an answer, but the sort of interesting questions the device raises.

        My view? They'll fail by disappearing, possibly because people dismiss them, but very likely for reasons no one has yet hypothesized.

        Finally, please consider the views whose approach to software is exactly the opposite of your own.
        They hate computers, feel diminished talking about them, want the software to do so much that users do not have to pay complete attention when they face the monitor.

        In a situation like that, your comment:

        "We're in a phase where the market for what were very adaptable machines is being driven not by peoples' needs for them but by sometimes very artificial ideas about what these machines are and what they can and should do."

        ... is appropriate to you, but not to companies which are attempting to make a large number of sales by giving people a reason to buy.

        For example, some people upgrade to obtain a media processor / player. So what's being sold is a device for that purpose.

        There are no "artificial ideas" about computers, there are only sales points which are more and less effective.

        In terms of cost, Microsoft is able to charge the same amount for Windows because the company keeps increasing the available capabilities and functionality.

        OEMs go along, because Windows is a sales point for their devices. If Microsoft products were not sales points, then the OEMs would be looking to that software as a way to cut costs.

        It's good for the computer industry that Microsoft keeps producing winners. ;-)
        Anton Philidor
        • What do cheap windows laptops, cigarettes, and baby formula have in common?

          These are, or were, all considered beneficial exports to the benighted.

          I believe Canada still makes most of the filter materials used in China's smoking industry.

          I see the $1xx laptop as in that category - not useful to the intended recipient, however comforted the donors are by the act of sending it.

          I think jplatt (above) has it right on this - in the long run it's (computer) literacy that counts and you won't get your typical third world thug to drop his ak-47 in favor of a laptop if you don't teach him to read and think first - and that's something a phone can contribute more to by affecting the environment around him in positive ways.
          • I suspect many thugs have phones.

            Telephone booths (as in Grenada) lacking, it's the way to send them to their next action.

            The laptop could serve the same sort of purpose despite your comment:

            "I think jplatt (above) has it right on this - in the long run it's (computer) literacy that counts and you won't get your typical third world thug to drop his ak-47 in favor of a laptop if you don't teach him to read and think first - and that's something a phone can contribute more to by affecting the environment around him in positive ways."

            A device cannot insist on how it will be used, the RIAA to the contrary.

            Surprising for me to realize that many people think it's possible to control the tool user by controlling the tool. Or that the tool is in some way transformative.

            You might teach a thug to read, think, and become (computer) literate, and thereby make him a more effective thug.

            It's not the software or the hardware.
            Anton Philidor
          • Computers are transformative

            On 12/29/06 Anton Philidor spoke and said:

            > You might teach a thug to read, think, and become (computer)
            > literate, and thereby make him a more effective thug.

            > It's not the software or the hardware.

            The pessimism in this thread about the OLPC surprises me. Most of the (mainly African) families I've been friends with over the years are really on their kids backs. I'm seeing it even now in an African-American (really African-American; Nnenna was born in Nigeria) with my LA-based niece and her daughters. Where we see this as essentially a luxury good, they see it as an opportunity. Where it works as intended, the kids will be made to spend time on it. Where it doesn't, adults will find time to.

            I see the initiative in the context of what has been going on for almost than forty years, the spread of wireless communication around the world, and the unattractiveness of restrictive technologies to many governments. Read Arthur C. Clarke's non-fiction, and in particular The View From Serendip, for a good old discussion of this.

            I exactly believe a device can insist on how it will be used, and while I don't believe that in fine it can control the user, it can limit the user's choices and in so doing discourage legitimate uses of the machines.

            Your argument above that:

            > There are no "artificial ideas" about computers, there are
            > only sales points which are more and less effective.

            is one where we have problems. My point is that the machines I am seeing are more and more bound up in sales points to particular markets which seem to be hostile to other markets which are more or less legitimate. That what I meant by artificial ideas and while certainly selling to these other markets can be considered equally artificial, M$'s EULA, its hardware requirements which explicitly demand OEM's make it harder to put other OSes on their machines, and so forth, as well as Apple's demand their OS run on their machines (which is easier to understand), are not just assaults on pirates, they are assaults on these other markets which can do more hurt all kinds of productivity than just ignoring them. Apple has already paid the price for it and they should be entitled to continue. Microsoft should be broken up.

            To get back to your original point, and to risk offending everyone, you can and will, by increasing educational opportunities, make more effective thugs. In their hands these laptops can be cell phones, calculators, and gateways to secure, decentralized, databases. While in the short term this can be terrifying, Castro and Gadhafy have shown that for the most part one way to contain movements we don't like is to show them how interdependent our various economies are. In other words, we can better motivate them to put their weapons down by allowing them to discover the help from sympathizers they require is available only in societies where the law governs your relations beyond your extended family (which fairly, I think, reflects the views of the groups in Mogidishu or of the tribal areas of Pakistan. I don't believe trying to limit their access to the Internet is a totally wasted effort, but I do believe Al-Qaeda's use of it is (literally) a double-edged sword, and that thug and terroristic use of the internet is something which, on some levels, we should accept as part of the spread of technology to the third world ("If guns are criminal, only criminals will have guns.")

            I guess my dissatisfaction with this whole discussion is predicated on the old saw that innovation comes from those who don't know what can't be done. I feel strongly that such people are being increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised in today's environment.

            As to what should be done about it, especially given Sony's idiotic appropriation of Root Kit technology, I believe we should either work harder to see such voices, from wherever, are treated with the respect they deserve, or we should resign ourselves to some very unpleasant technological developments which our coming our way.
  • Open Solaris Community vs Linux

    I rather doubt it. I think the CDDL is far superior to the GPL, and Solaris is much better than Linux.

    But Linux is good enough, and it's relatively straightforward for someone with a little bit of technical savvy to setup a desktop Linux machine that is a reasonable substitute for Windows (superior in many ways, inferior in others).

    What does that have to do with Solaris? To my knowledge, if I chose to run Solaris instead of Linux I would have to stray farther outside the box (meaning the distribution and its major 3rd party package providers) in order to create a suitable modern desktop system. It's not that it's not possible. I'm pretty sure almost everything that can be compiled on Linux can be compiled on Solaris. But I don't want to compile everything, and then manually configure it, and try to keep everything up-to-date.
    Erik Engbrecht
    • Why consider the desktop?

      The conclusion that Linux failed to challenge Microsoft on the desktop became definite this year. And I don't think Solaris has been thought a possible competitor.

      Servers are the more likely subject when Linux and Solaris are discussed. More specifically, those server uses which Microsoft is unlikely to take over in the near future despite Windows' growth. Basically (other, more expensive) Unix replacements.

      More specifically still, Linux as used by companies such as IBM to reduce contract bids. And Solaris use by companies which once had top pay for the software, but have now been freed from their obligations.

      This covers almost the entirety of likely Linux / Solaris use in the future, at least until Microsoft products become respected alternatives. At which point all discussions of commercial Linux and Solaris will be moot.

      [Some hyperbole intended. Except where I was serious.]
      Anton Philidor
      • Yes, why the desktop

        Outside of specialized markets, such as science and engineering applications, I think it will be a long time before Linux is really common on the business desktop.

        So why does the desktop matter?

        People use what they are comfortable with, and it is much easier to get comfortable with something that has a nice desktop interface. For a long time I had both Windows on Linux on my home computer, but I only used Linux when I wanted to do something that was much easier in Linux, or when I was intentionally familiarizing myself with Unix. Maybe two years ago the situation reversed, and Linux became my dominate operating system. About a year ago my usage of Windows dropped to almost none, but I kept it around for other people. As of yesterday my home computer is Microsoft free.

        I've always preferred [i]working[/i] in a Unix environment, but only recently has Linux become a complete replacement - and part of that has nothing to do with Linux. I stopped playing computer games and my employer stopped allowing non-company machines to connect to the VPN.

        So what's the point?

        If Linux is my primary OS then I have to be familiar with it (or refrain from tinkering with it), just like at one time I had to be familiar with Windows. When Linux was something I had primarily for the sake of keeping my root-level Unix knowledge current so that system administrators would have a harder time BS'ing me I didn't really spend that much time in it. So if Linux were not completely substitutable for Windows, at least for my purposes, I wouldn't be anywhere near as familiar with Linux.

        So at work I will pick Linux over Solaris, because I put my hands on Linux on a regular basis outside of work but I do not on Solaris, even though I could easily install Solaris at home. Solaris would be there solely so I could familiarize myself with Solaris, and it just isn't worth it.

        Unless Murph is going to do a blog series on setting up and maintaining a home Solaris box using only free software that is a sufficient substitute for Linux and Windows.
        Erik Engbrecht
  • Oh fer Christ sakes, get off it Murph.

    "Microsoft's client-server technologies to store and access identity related data is an industry dumbest practice."

    Murph, I use various OS and clients and the fact is ANY may be secured or left wide open. What amazes me is that you know this to be the facts and yet you continue to spread the myths about security.

    You are quickly loosing credibility with anyone that understands security.
    • FYIU, look at the stats..

      For hacked systems revealing personal information. Yes, the MOST hacked (in number of people effected) has been Unix for the last three years.
      • Nope - where did you get that idea?

        The majority of losses recorded at


        come from lost windows laptops.

        The second largest cause is lost mainframe/windows backup tapes.

        The third biggest group reflects hacked (usually internally, although that's not widely recognized) university administration databases - almost unanimously sql-server on windows.

        So from Unix hacks? I doubt you could make a case for 1%.
        • Yoyr source ?

          You say..
          "The second largest cause is lost mainframe/windows backup tapes."
          You refer to http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/ChronDataBreaches.htm
          as your source. Where on this site dose it say that the backup tapes are mainframe/windows. ?

          Also you say
          "The third biggest group reflects hacked (usually internally, although that's not widely recognized) university administration databases -almost unanimously sql-server on windows."
          Again, how did you make the sql-server on windows connection ?
    • "Secure" Windoze Sux

      Have you ever TRIED to use "Limited" accounts under WXP? You can surf - and that's about it. The ONLY way to get games working (one's that install under Program Files) is to create an icon on the limited account (FROM the admin account), and have it ask for a "user" to run as (usually the admin), and to ask for a password. This is for almost EVERY program that you can run (few Windoze developers have "practiced" running under limited accounts).

      Having been around for a while in IT, I can tell you that asking for passwords TOO MANY TIMES, is the number 1 turnoff of the user experience.

      This situation SUX - it is NOT EVEN CLOSE to UNIX-like multi-user capabilities. I am VERY disappointed - after being told how great this feature is by every NBMer out there. BEFORE I just got trouble calls from my customers (read freeloading relatives that know me as a "computer guy"), now I get complaints about typing passwords and how frustrated users just give up and use the admin account. I defy ANY M$ "expert" to show me an adequate solution to this mess (NO, upgrade to Riska is NOT a solution).

      At first, I gave so-called M$ admins the benefit of the doubt. There's no doubt left - and no benefit either.

      My New Year's resolution is to play hardball against ignorance - don't try to put crap past me again M$hills!
      Roger Ramjet