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Issue of December 2006 

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IT in 2007

“The future isn’t what it used to be.”

- Yogi Berra (American professional baseball player and manager)

As we approach the new year it’s time for the Network Magazine team to dust off our crystal ball and compile a list of technologies that will have an impact on enterprise computing in 2007. This time around we have a slew of technologies that run the gamut of everything from cabling to servers to security and convergence (both in the same story, in fact).

Still, I couldn’t help but notice that technology is becoming increasingly mundane and prosaic. After the heady years of 2004 and 2005 when it seemed like you had a new technology knocking on your digital door every second month, things have cooled off. Perhaps that is a Good Thing as enterprises like to go slow and steady and win the race like the proverbial turtle but it does make it harder for us to drum up the excitement.

That said, there is plenty happening, albeit it’s evolutionary stuff, not revolutionary. Take the case of 10G on copper or Voice Spam—one is the next logical step from 1G on copper while the other’s an existing threat, spam on e-mail or instant messaging, taken to a new medium.

On the desktop front, we’ll see the next version of Windows and Office. Vista’s already out to Volume Licencing customers and it’ll be available preloaded on new PCs from January 30, 2007. Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 were made available to business customers on November 30, 2006. General availability of Office’s next avatar, as per Microsoft, will take place in early 2007.

Let’s look at both these products which are the dominant platforms for desktop computing. Vista will move into the Indian enterprise and SMB on the back of PC and notebook purchases. CIOs with hundreds or thousands of desktops will not upgrade the memory and graphics card on each and every one just to run a new OS even if it is better than its predecessor. This has been the case with all new iterations of Windows in the past and I expect Vista to be on the majority enterprise desktops by 2008-09. 2007 will see the first round of testing and evaluation and adoption by companies that have standardised on a Microsoft stack. The same is true for Office 2007.

On the Linux front, Red Hat appears to be under siege from Oracle and Microsoft (not to mention SUSE) but, for now at least, it’s holding on. I don’t see anything dramatic happening vis-a-vis Linux adoption. As per IDC, Linux server shipment growth is tapering off. After 15 consecutive quarters of double-digit y-o-y growth, Linux server revenue grew 6.1 percent to $1.5 billion in Q206. Linux accounts for 12 percent of server revenue.

Technology-wise there’s been significant innovation on the server OS front in the Unix world during the past couple of years (Solaris 10 being an excellent case in point; or the way IBM keeps putting mainframe features into AIX). On the Windows Server front a lot of UNIX-y features have been added (Resource Management, SMP support etc.). When it comes to Linux, the focus appears to be more on incremental improvements rather than big leaps. I’m still waiting for Linux to make the leap into Unix territory by becoming a platform that’s capable of hosting huge databases (think core banking or ERP databases). If that happens it will be interesting to watch the Unix crowd’s response. So far it’s been a case of Windows Server and Linux both eating into Unix’s share of the mid-range server market—largely the application tier while the latter continues to reign in the database server category. HPC is again dominated by Windows and Linux.

On the desktop PC front, multi-core is the big thing. A multi-core CPU may not be faster, heck some single-core CPUs kick some of the early multi-core chips out of the game on raw performance. However, dual-core chips provide a more responsive system, one where your PC doesn’t slow down to a crawl the minute you start copying a lot of files or running an anti-virus scan in the background. Multi-core is also big news on the server front. Here it’s all about squeezing more performance for the same power consumption in a denser form-factor.

There’s a lot to read this time and as we’ve divided it by technology and application categories; you can pick and choose the features that interest you. Bon appetit, may you whet your appetite for technology.

Prashant L Rao
Executive Editor

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