% fortune -ae paul murphy

What will happen in IT in 2007?

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!

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.