ZDNet’s top products and tech trends for 2013

ZDNet’s top products and tech trends for 2013

Summary: Which products, platforms, and big ideas made the most impact in 2013?

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TOPICS: Apple, Amazon, Security
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  • Virtualization as malware killer

    Every IT pro knows how virtualization is increasing data center efficiency and streamlining deployment of applications and services. But on desktops, the technology is still mostly a specialized tool for software testers and developers.

    That might all change soon, thanks to Bromium, a startup that specialize in what it calls “micro-virtualization technology.” The company released its first product, vSentry, this year, with the ambitious goal of automatically stopping malware and targeted attacks viruses in their tracks on any computer running Microsoft Windows.

    On a PC running Bromium’s vSentry, every single process is virtualized. Every time you fire up an application—including a web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome—it's isolated in its own micro-VM. When you close the application or the process, that micro-VM also dies, as does any malware that may have entered the system via that process. 

    No virus cleaning, no quarantining. No reboots. It vanishes in a puff of logic.

    That, of course, assumes that an attacker was able to get through in the first place. Another Bromium technology, Live Attack Visualization and Analysis (LAVA), monitors every micro-VM for telltale signs of an attack, using crowd-sourced data to spot the behavioral signatures of common attacks. It can spot redirects, cross-site scripting attacks, and phishing attempts as well as rootkits and bootkits, shutting down the micro-VM before it can be compromised.

    In the not so distant future, advanced virtualization technology like Bromium’s could very well make traditional Windows malware a thing of the past.

    — Jason Perlow

  • The cloud turns solid

    The cloud is your new server. And someday soon it might also be your new desktop, too.

    In 2013, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service went from mind-numbing acronyms (IaaS/PaaS) to real things. Microsoft’s Azure continues to grow, with this year marking its entry into the billion-dollar-annual revenue club in Redmond. You can run a Windows server or Linux in an Azure instance, and the latest update to Microsoft’s traditional server software, Windows Server 2012 R2 with System Center 2012 R2, known together as Microsoft Cloud OS, is more tightly tied to the cloud than ever.

    Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services launched an unexpected offering of its own: Amazon WorkSpaces, which it pitches as desktop-as-a-service. Each virtual machine, running in the AWS cloud, hosts a fully licensed version of Windows 7, with or without productivity software like Office, that enterprises can deploy instead of using alternatives from VMware, Citrix, or IBM. Amazon has released WorkSpaces clients for Windows, Mac, and iPads, with Kindle Fire and Android clients on deck.

    And if you prefer to roll your own private cloud, you’ve got open source alternatives like OpenStack Havana. That platform, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, got a big boost from the newly private Dell, which will be the first OEM to deliver the software as part of Dell Cloud Services.

    If you thought the cloud was just a fad, you were mistaken. Get used to it.

    — Ed Bott

Topics: Apple, Amazon, Security

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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41 comments
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  • Seems 2013 was the year of incremental upgrades

    Little happened this year that was really new or exciting, maybe consumer tech is starting to plateau.
    FrankInKy
    • TouchID is something that is not incremental

      But that is it for this year.
      DDERSSS
      • 2013 was the year of Edward Snowden and

        how NSA is using weak Windows ecosystem to spy people. It was also the year when millions of people started to think about what real security means - the year to leave Windows, IE, Facebook, and some other social network spying sites. Don't lock yourself to Microsoft, Apple and Google ecosystem. Especially avoid Windows and IE.
        MacBroderick
        • Is the NSA using Windows to spy on folks?

          Just about everything I've read points to them using either legal loopholes or network, uh, "features" to look at people's data. Are they really getting down at the client level, or even at the level of a particular server OS?
          Flydog57
      • Depends on how you define "incremental"

        I had a fingerprint scanner/reader on my desktop many years ago. Motorola had one on their Atrix 4G back in 2011. I own an Iwallet. Iwallet is a hard cased wallet that opens with your fingerprint. However, Apple is the first one to actually make it part of it's cell phone operating system. So does the fact that it has been around and used for many years mean that Apple's implementation is "incremental"?
        sgtm8@...
        • No

          Apple's implementation of the fingerprint scanner is revolutionary and come 2014 everyone will be using it. How well did the fingerprint scanner on the Atrix work? Not very well. It didn't set the world on fire and people forgot about it.

          Apple didn't invent the smart phone, yet the reason every mobile device on the planet today has a touch screen, app store, and a camera is because Apple said so.
          Maha888
  • Kinda sad to see "self-updating software" on the list.

    Kinda sad to see "self-updating software" on the list.

    Not because it's a bad idea, but because we've had the tech to do so for a long, long time.

    Software that updates itself has been around for 10, maybe 20 years. What's happened is not its invention, but rather its popularity. It feels like such a fundamental thing - why did it take so long to become popular?
    CobraA1
  • sigh . . .

    "The Chromecast is also a potential game-changer for sales and marketing pros . . ."

    Maybe, but meh. They're not as important as ZDNet tends to think. I consider them to be niche.
    CobraA1
    • I said the same thing on that very notion

      so instead of lugging around a projector, they'll lug around a TV?

      Now if the location you're doing the presentation at already has TV's as he mentions, then you weren't lugging around a projector, just plugging your laptop in via HDMI already.

      I thought from the start that SJVN was making up a scenario that doesn't exist to try to give a niche product some relevance.
      William.Farrel
      • I'm sure it has its uses.

        Oh, I'm sure it has its uses.

        But pretending that "sales and marketing pros" are a major percentage of the general population seems silly to me.
        CobraA1
  • Sounds like sandboxie.

    "Virtualization as malware killer"

    Meh, this is no 2013 thing - sandboxie was doing this first.
    CobraA1
    • Not the same thing at all

      Very different technology. Bromium is a true hypervisor, for heaven's sake.
      Ed Bott
      • There you go again Ed...

        ....with your grumpy bad attitude problem. Whilst you may be correct in your point, that really does not give you a right to exercise your sanctimonious 'for heavens sake' attitude in correcting someone who may not be so well informed.
        You really should try harder to show a little more respect and tolerance for your readers, whose clicks generate wealth for the company who ultimately pay you. Please try and share your superior knowledge a little more gracefully.
        The Central Scrutinizer
        • Did you read a different post???

          I didn't see any basis for your litany of criticisms.
          FrankInKy
        • Thanks for the career advice

          Now go away.
          Ed Bott
      • Great Tech

        Bromium's vSentry looks to add functionality that should really be an integral part of every modern OS. This is the way processes should always be run. I've been saying we need a completely new OS with virtual process functionality built into the kernel, virtual device interfaces, and sporting a self-repairing file system for a decade now. To be honest, I'm amazed they were able to add per process virtual machines into the existing Windows spaghetti.
        BillDem
      • A "true hypervisor"?

        A "true hypervisor"?

        Kinda like a true Scotsman, I assume?
        CobraA1
  • Looking backwards...

    Doesn't provide much insight to where your next foot step will be. I suppose it fills space though.
    NoAxToGrind
  • Thoughts on the "cloud."

    "The cloud turns solid"

    Can you come up with a better word than "cloud" please? I DO NOT WANT A FUZZY WORD LIKE THAT TO BE THE FUTURE OF MANKIND EVEN IF THE TECHNOLOGY STAYS.

    Ugh. It's still a horrible, poorly defined word.

    And while the "cloud" may stay - I do not automatically think that means PCs and local computing power should go away. It's a supplement to local power, not a replacement of it.

    The "fad" is not the idea of remote computing resources, the fad is the idea that remote computing resources completely replaces local computing resources.
    CobraA1
    • There is no "cloud"

      I agree, CobraA1. The "cloud" is a bad analogy, a soft word designed to lull us into a false sense of security. In this analogy, we're using just one or two water droplets. A better word is the "RES", short for REmote Servers. You're storing your stuff on a RES (also short for reservations, about which I have many).
      RSBerman