Five IT Pilots Going 'Production Grade' in '05

The major theme for the year ahead will be turning some of IT's biggest 'pet theories' into full-scale, real-life production assets, says John Goodson, a vice president of production operations for DataDirect Technologies. See which IT trial balloons Goodson says will get swift upward momentum, and how architects and senior devs can benefit.

Tags: Technologies, Applications, Practices, Production, Server, XQuery, Enterprise,

Vice president of product operations,
DataDirect Technologies
The major theme for the year ahead will be turning theories into real-life practices and production environments.

After years of simply talking about a wide array of "what if" visions of end-of-end computing, easier integration, push-button change management and well-oiled technologies and practices for meeting government regulation (and internal needs for corporate governance), the talk will finally walk-the-walk.

With my colleagues at DataDirect Technologies, I have compiled a list of five technology predictions that are bound to shake things up in 2005. As the industry will see these technologies become standard practices in the real world. Ready? Here we go.

1) .NET Moves from Pilots to Enterprise-Wide Production
Over the last few years, companies have taken baby steps when it comes to implementing .NET applications. Since it was a relatively new technology, companies used .NET for small, departmental-specific projects or pilot tests instead of jumping on the .NET bandwagon with full force.

In 2005, many of the companies that underwent .NET pilots are going to be building business-critical, enterprise-wide applications using the technology. These applications will force IT managers to put in place the sort of robust supporting infrastructure, processes and practices usually associated with business-critical enterprise applications.

As a direct result of this change, .NET applications will increasingly be in use in heterogeneous IT environments - integrating with other applications and accessing a wide range of data stores.

2) XQuery, XQuery, XQuery!
With software giants riding the XML wave and XQuery moving steadily toward approval as an official standard by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), XQuery will begin to fundamentally change the way enterprise software applications are built. The promise XQuery brings to dramatically simplifying and accelerating data integration and querying XML is unprecedented. The emerging standard will revolutionize data exchange and the way applications are developed, deployed and utilized. Regulatory issues in industries like financial services and government will drive early adoption of XQuery.

3) Open Source Apps Get into Production Environments
There has been a lot of talk about Open Source in the industry of late. As developers continue to migrate their applications from Unix (especially Sun Microsystems' Solaris) to Linux operating systems, Open Source infrastructure will find its way into more and more production environments.

While Linux has traditionally used workloads at the application server layer, 2005 will bring increased usage at the database tier. Database technologies such as Oracle's 10g will continue to popularize the use of Linux clusters for high-performance, high-available OLTP applications. 2005 will also see tremendous growth in the use of the JBoss application server. JBoss will increasingly become a viable alternative to commercial application servers. As this trend continues, IT managers will focus on technologies that enhance JBoss' enterprise readiness, such as data connectivity middleware.

4) Enterprise-Caliber Commodity Hardware -- Finally
Improvements in price/performance ratios as well as reliability and availability will continue to drive adoption of commodity hardware based on Intel or AMD chip technology.

Applications running on top of commodity hardware will become the solution of choice for making applications run faster and perform more efficiently. Pioneered by online heavyweights such as Google and Amazon, more mainstream companies are moving away from an architecture that relies on one large proprietary UNIX server and instead distributing workload across multiple commodity servers running Linux or Windows.

Clustering also brings the benefits of load balancing for even distribution of data across servers; failover for extensive back-up capabilities; and redundancy for continuous processing even if other units in the system fail.

5) Compliance-Driven Infrastructure Investments
After years of trying to line up practices and setting plans for software upgrades, 2005 will see companies will begin spending significant money on the underlying infrastructure to support compliance with a variety of recent government regulations that affect governance of oversight of company business.

Most notably, Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance issues, aimed at preventing financial misconduct and accounting scandals, have been breathing down the necks of executives and IT directors for some time now. In 2005, companies will begin spending significant money on the underlying infrastructure to support compliance.

Executives and their customers are demanding security and auditing-type features in software that were once considered niche but are now being implemented on a wider basis. In 2005, companies will deploy more security features, such as Kerberos and Windows Authentication, inside their applications on a wider scale.

Well, from working with execs responsible for practical productions issues at many of the country's largest firms, that's our list. One can only guess how these technologies will change the IT landscape, but we can expect 2005 to be a year of enormous change.