Top Ten IT Predictions for 2007: Page 2

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5) The Battle for "Information Platform" Leadership Will Shift Into High Gear

Companies, Gens notes, consistently identify “rapid access to relevant information” among the top two business requirements for IT. To meet this demand, vendors like IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and SAP continue to put together information retrieval platforms – most notably SOA. But access to information still isn’t where it needs to be.

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The movement toward SOA echoes the way that many other new technologies have swept through the industry, Gens says. Typically, this process happens in two waves. The first wave is about the IT industry itself, as it transforms its packaged offerings to adopt the new architecture.

“And that’s kind of where we’ve been with SOA,” he says. “All of the major software vendors are just really coming through the process now of turning their own package applications into Service Oriented Architecture.”

The second wave takes place when SOA is embedded inside package offerings, “and customers may or may not know they’re SOA.” He points, for instance, to SAP’s new generation ERP packages, which are built on a SOA architecture. This enables applications to be installed faster, upgraded faster, integrate quicker, all at a lower cost.

“Where we are with SOA is: now the IT industry is starting to deliver solutions that are ‘SOA inside.’”

6) Major Apps Vendors Will Radically Up-Shift Their SaaS, SMB Initiatives

IDC predicts that in 2007, “shifting and expanding SOA application ecosystems onto SaaS delivery platforms will become a key strategy for reaching the SMB market.”

But this prediction creates a question: would the customization that’s so important to SOA be limited by a SaaS delivery model?

“With today’s model, yes,” Gens says. “But that model is changing.” He notes that the very idea of ‘customization’ can be defined any number of ways.

As more and more business applications are available online, buyers have the ability to create “mash-ups” of existing apps, mixing and matching to create a “new” program that meets their specific needs. In this scenario, “A customized application is in effect a combination of widely available, off-the-shelf services, whether it’s software application or business services or consumer services.”

Currently, we tend to view software apps as static, almost monolithic (think Microsoft Office). “Whereas in the future, the ‘application’ is going to be a combination of different services,” Gens says. The economics of this “mash-up” style of app creation will be far cheaper than the old customization model of “one customer, one version.”

On a separate note, IDC forecasts two “out on a limb” predictions. First: IBM will create an online hub to allow SMB’s to acquire, on demand, apps from IBM’s WebSphere/SOA partners. Second: Salesforce.com will be acquired.

As online delivery of software becomes ever more important, Salesforce.com is a juicy target. “The question is, ‘Who would buy them?’ The usual suspects – IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft – I don’t rate them with a high likelihood.” Instead, Gens sees Internet players like Google or Yahoo, or other companies trying to court SMBs, as more likely buyers.

7) Virtualization 2.0 Will Reshape Infrastructure Landscape

Virtualization software, of course, decreases the number of servers that companies need to buy. IDC predicts that in 2007, more than 10% of all physical server deployments will be virtual machine hosts, supporting more than 3.6 million virtual servers – a whopping 52% increase over 2006.

This certainly doesn’t mean that server manufacturers are dying. We’ll always need hardware. Still, “There’s no question that the major hardware vendors are all working to strengthen their software and services portfolios,” Gens says. “They’re trying to go up the stack.”

One company that hasn’t done much to move up the stack is Dell, he notes, because of their partnership with Microsoft. “2007 is certainly going to be crossroads year for Dell: how do they leverage their strong hardware position for greater growth and profit opportunities?”


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