Trends in 2005: Vlogs, SOA and IP Everything

There’s no question, tech got cool again in 2004 thanks in part to the rise of
blogs, open source, IP telephony, big power in small gadgets and Google’s
IPO, along with the the decline of the desktop computer that we knew only a
decade ago. But these are just a few blinks of an eye along tech’s
continuum. There is so much more to the story of tech and the IT industry.

Given how closely follows the IT industry, you
could call this trend roundup the continuing story of tech, rather than any
“guarantee this might happen”-type safe prediction. In no particular order,
here’s our list:

IP Telephony Heading Into Fast Lane

A number of blue-chip companies — including Bank of America and Ford —
turned to Voice over Internet Protocol in 2004 to cut costs and improve

Provided none of those installments become a cautionary tale, expect more
corporations to plug into the technology in 2005.

That’s good news for makers of telecom and network equipment, including
Cisco , Lucent and Nortel , to
name a just a few.

Residential VoIP should also continue to rise due to
increased broadband adoption (a requirement for the service),
improved call quality and aggressive competition among upstarts like Vonage
and larger telecoms like AT&T and Verizon .

Regulators and industry officials will continue to grind out issues, such as
911 service and law enforcement wiretapping rights, but the major issue of
whether Washington or the states had jurisdiction over the service was
answered by the Federal Communications Commission this year.


The Oracle-PeopleSoft story that dominated the tech industry in 2004 will continue to
play out in 2005 now that the merger is complete.

But Oracle’s victory lap will be short as the combined company must
now tackle SAP AG, as well as advances in the enterprise resource
planning (ERP) sector by Microsoft and IBM.

The real challenge for Oracle is keeping and maintaining maintenance
contracts. Despite original plans to reduce its headcount by 6,000, Oracle
now says it will keep development and support teams, as it continues to
enhance the PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards product lines. The companies are
already working on their Java-based successor product.

Oracle will also begin the process of taking over PeopleSoft’s
contracts and partnerships with the U.S. government and financial
services firms, including the U.S. federal payroll.

Even when the success of the hostile bid was in question, the
industry was already maneuvering around the possibility, with IBM and
SAP striking a deal and Bill Gates mulling whether to merge with SAP, as
well. Oracle has not entirely ruled out the promise of another

Expect more alliances as the enterprise software players and systems
vendors look to protect their market share in the shadow of a major
behemoth by the name of Oracle.

Viruses: Even More Vicious

You’ve heard of smart mobs. How about smart viruses that act like agents,
letting the other attack program know if it’s about to get zapped. Call it
a kind of rugby for the virus-writing crowd. Spyware will continue to
spread, with or without weak federal legislation to help or hinder its
growth. The prospects for collecting data on your surfing habits is too
powerful. Spyware-zappers will be loaded for bear too.

If you think mobile phone viruses are a pain now, just wait until next year.
Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure director of anti-virus research, said mobile
viruses just started picking up steam in late 2004, but will make up for lost
time next year. Just last week, the research firm detected two new
of the Cabir virus affecting Symbian operating systems.

“This has already been the year of the mobile threat, and we do think that’s
going to get worse,” he said. “Mobile phone viruses and PDA viruses are
here to stay.”

He also fears we are only a year or two away from seeing a virus that jumps
from laptop to laptop via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. A “nightmarish”
scenario, he said, would be an infected laptop making its way through the
office or the local Starbucks, infecting everything it touches.

SCO vs. the World

The SCO Group continued to infuriate the open source
community in 2004 with its lawsuits against IBM (breach of
), Novell (slander),
AutoZone and Daimler-Chrysler (breach of

Expect some real activity in 2005, with an important court hearing Feb. 1,
moved back from its original Jan. 20 date, in the SCO v. Novell slander
case. A judge is expected to hear Novell’s motion to dismiss the amended
complaint. Meanwhile, SCO officials expect the jury trial in SCO v. IBM to
begin in November.

Chips: Dual Core, 64-Bit

We’ll see plenty of positioning around the new forms of processing
this year. Already Intel has taken a few mea culpas for not acting
quickly enough on 64-bit chips after AMD grabbed bragging rights for
doing just the opposite: bringing Opteron and 64-bit computing to the
x86 industry, which proved more ready than a lot of manufacturers

Many enterprise application vendors are struggling with the
implications of multi-core architectures and their pricing implications.
Microsoft recently eased the situation when it said it would price its
software by a per-processor model and not change it to accommodate
hardware that contains dual-core and multi-core processors.

Dual core is sexy among silicon enthusiasts, so look for Intel to
produce a chip that is two Dothans on one. Among notebooks, expect AMD
to try to make up ground against Intel’s leading mobile chip Centrino,
with its upcoming Turion 64 brand. Massive volume shipments from both
vendors are expected in 2006.

But AMD is at its best when it is playing its 64-bit card, which
Intel doesn’t have in its deck beyond extensions.

Searching Storage, Finding Security

Look for information lifecycle management to evolve from a developing
strategy to a
complete repertoire of hardware and software for storage vendors in 2005.

Companies like EMC , IBM and HDS will continue to duke it out for market share in a space where
stringent compliance regulations rule the roost.

EMC has been on an acquisition tear since 2003, so you can bet they will get
stronger, while Oracle will try to chip away at industry
leaders with its new enterprise content management system.

And if you think the $13.5 billion Symantec/Veritas acquisition was the be
all, end all of mergers think again: Contraction will continue among leading
vendors looking to lasso new technologies.

Search is a Horse Race Again

MSN went live with a beta of its home-grown search technology last year,
and it’s gunning for market share. Although MSN renewed a deal with Yahoo’s
Overture to provide lucrative paid search listings, rumor has it that MSN also
is recruiting its own squad of ad reps.

At the same time, Ask Jeeves , still in distant fourth
place in terms of total searches completed, will continue to get mind-share,
thanks to its improved technology and slick desktop search tool. Google, the acknowledged
leader in search, already lost share of total searches when Yahoo switched to its
own technology. It won’t be a death match this year, but it will be interesting.

Search Becomes the Portal to Applications

In place of
application-specific search tools, consumers will enthusiastically adopt free consumer
desktop search tools for Windows that can search among disparate
file types. As they become used to searching such things
as e-mails and text documents via desktop search, they’ll begin to use the desktop
search tool to launch applications, as well. The desktop search interface will
begin to replace the Windows desktop, with its often bewildering mess of icons,
as the GUI of choice.

Search Really Hits the Enterprise

Between the exponential growth in content generated by large companies and the
continued in-utility of Microsoft’s desktop search tools, the enterprise search market
will heat up. And none other than Big Blue aims to get into the game. Search technology
cooking in Big Blue’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center will be baked into software in
the information management systems unit. The search tools will be able to pull subtext
from stored data, including structured information in databases, as well as the unstructured
data like e-mail or video files handled by the free consumer desktop search tools.

While there are entrenched vendors that offer these capabilities, they don’t have IBM’s

Video Search in View

In 2004, Yahoo, Blinkx and AOL’s SingingFish delivered tools that search server-based
media content, while niche players, such as Critical Mention, raised their hands. Advances
this year will begin to determine the direction for searchable video: There are still no
standards for metadata or describing the contents — rather than the format — of digital

The Rise of (Truly) Distributed Computing

Service-oriented architectures (SOA) and Web services
will continue to lead the software market into new
forays of distributed computing in 2005.

Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems and a raft of smaller vendors will come up with news ways to
automate business processes.

But because the market is teaming with companies looking to accomplish the
same goals, expect more acquisitions among vendors who specialize in
managing or securing Web services.

UltraWideband: Grease on the Convergence Tracks

We know that gaming and convergence among consumer gadgets are key
drivers behind chip and semiconductor sales in 2005, more so than
enterprise-focused devices. But wait until you can send a (legitimate)
digital download of a movie or song collection from one device to another in
your home, wirelessly, using your UltraWideband-enabled Personal
Area Network. You can with Wi-Fi you say? Not without bugs.

With data transfer rates of 11 megabits per second and higher possible
across short distances, UWB is seen challenging some in the Wi-Fi clan of
protocols for a piece of the wireless networking pie. After all, 802.11n may
be moving into prominence as the fastest wireless local area network set
alongside 802.11a, b and g, but these are geared for an enterprise
environment. For easy home networking around digital media, UWB has
glittering promise and will see its supporters using 2005 to get their
products ready for the starting gates in 2006 and beyond, including Texas
Instruments, Microsoft, Intel, Royal Philips Electronics and General

A Vintage Year For Open Source?

The Linux Kernel. In 2005, the 2.7 development branch of the Linux kernel will emerge (end
of the year), and part of the new kernel development path will include
“built-in” grid/clustering type capabilities bringing super-computer type
power down the pipeline to mainstream users. Security vulnerabilities will

be found, patched and reported, and SELinux will gain favor with
distributions other than just Red Hat and Gentoo.

Linux Distributions. Early in the first quarter of 2005, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 will be
released, marking the first enterprise Red Hat distribution to include a 2.6
kernel. Fedora Core 4.5 and 6 will be released over the course of
the year; Mandrake will release version 11; and Novell’s SUSE Linux will
release versions 9.3 and 9.4.

At some point during the first quarter, the longer awaited, much delayed
Debian “Sarge” will also be released. Sarge’s deployment will spur the
emergence of the third enterprise Linux distribution, which will likely
be Bruce Peren’s UserLinux initiative, though the emerging
Ubantu distribution may also be a player.

Linux Desktop. Some research firms and companies will claim the Linux desktop is still
not ready for the enterprise while others will claim (again) that this
year (as opposed to any of the last seven years) will be the year of the
Linux Desktop.

Controversies. Patents and intellectual property issues will continue to dog Linux and
open source in 2005. The various SCO actions will continue without major
resolution in 2005, though the firm will succumb to FUD and purchase a
SCOsource Linux license. Microsoft will continue its Get The Facts
campaign on Linux vs. Windows ROI, and Linux advocates and various research
firms will continue to pump out data showing otherwise.

Applications. The Mozilla Foundation will gear up its hype machine for the release of
Mozilla 2.0 (now at 1.8 alpha), and interest will pick up in its Sunbird
Calendar project. A big firm will donate an application/development to
the Apache Foundation and will use the donation to tout their commitment
to the open source community. version 2.0 will be released,
further making its case as a premier office suite. PostgreSQL 8.0 will be
released and will legitimately challenge Oracle in the database space.

All in all 2005 will be another year in which open source will grab more
than its fair share of headlines and momentum as it continues to change
the economic and development paradigms of the IT industry.

RSS Hits Bumpy Growth

Spammers have already found a way to bum the karma of bloggers’ blissfully
spam-free existence with the arrival of link spam, the practice of carpet
bombing a blogger’s site with tons of comments. And then there are the
bandwidth bear issues that will continue to bedevil the growth of RSS
. You might say RSS is headed for an awkward teen year of
growth, as enterprises grapple with how to conserve their bandwidth while
feeding the RSS need among subscribers.

Better Get a Vlog

Moblogging, blogging with pictures, will
continue growing, thanks to a new generation of photojournalists in the
making. Only with moblogging there will be a lot of bad pics along the way.
Video blogging has already been
streaming out of Weblogs and will be picking up steam fast in 2005, due to
better codecs for compression, and the continued growth of video phones
via cell phones. This will be a raw year for the trend, but in this mid-decade
year, companies will be peeking at a few vlogs to see how their messages
are getting out.

BitTorrent, We Hardly Knew Ye

BitTorrent came out of nowhere last year to push peer-to-peer
technology to new heights. Thanks to
its ability to improve upload/download technology with a system that allows
file-sharers to grab content from each other’s systems and strip them into
shreds until they’re ready to be called up by a user and reassembled. But
alas, Hollywood caught up with BitTorrent in 2004, with copyright
infringement suits by the truckload against folks that pilfered major media
files via the network. But the thing is, the technology has legitimate uses,
just like the VCR does. And with the Supreme Court gearing up to hear a case
involving use of P2P and copyright, expect to be hearing more about
BitTorrent and more programs like it.

RFID: Planning at a Whole New Level

Thanks to mandates from the nation’s largest purchasers, radio frequency identification, also known as RFID, auto-ID and contactless data transmission, went from a little understood technique for automating warehouse and supply-chain operations to a major initiative for the big consulting and software companies.

While the most obvious benefits of RFID are speeding supply chain operations by eliminating the need to manually scan barcodes, the real juice will come from plugging the resultant data into corporate systems. Businesses will get a new view of trends, identify weak points in their operations and take planning to a whole new level.

Budgets for RFID will grow in 2005, but RFID-centric companies may not see much of that money. Analysts with ABI Research say two trends are emerging in retail: The “slap and ship” method, which is applying the tag without any attempt to capture data themselves. The other is turning to their traditional technology partners, companies they know and trust. Both techniques are sapping the $2 million to $3 million average expected by RFID-centric vendors.

Carriers, Customers Ready for 3G

Wireless telecom players wasted little time establishing the fact that
2005 will be a big year for third-generation technology in the
United States.

The wireless broadband technology caught on first in Asia, but is spreading
quickly here as carriers’ multi-billion-dollar investments in new network
equipment from Lucent , Nortel and others begins
to pay off.

First, Cingular, which expanded its high-speed data network with the $41 billion
purchase of AT&T Wireless, declared
success in recent trials. The company completed High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)
data calls on a 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System during tests
in the Atlanta market.

Shortly after Cingular’s news, Verizon Wireless made its own noise in the
space, announcing
an expansion of its 1xEV-DO 3G network to 30 cities and an ambitious multimedia
content delivery service that will support video-on-demand, news and
entertainment and live, 3-D interactive gaming.

Industry-watchers say consumers are ready to pay for premium services,
especially those that provide video, such as Verizon Wireless’ pending
offering, which will cost $15 per month on top of the regular monthly bill.

And phone makers — including LG, Samsung and UTStarcom — are only too happy
to oblige, developing new handsets built for video. In addition, content makers
are looking to format video clips specifically for the smaller screen.

Another major player in the U.S. market, Sprint , which is in
the process of acquiring Nextel Communications , also has
its engineers working on premium 3G services.

Written by: Roy Mark, Colin Haley, Susan Kuchinskas, Sean Michael Kerner, Clint Boulton, Jim Wagner, Erin Joyce, Tim Gray, Catherine Pickavet and Michael Singer

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