Rating the 2004 IT forecast

Welcome to 2005! How about we look back at my 2004 predictions to see how well I did? There were five:

1. Microsoft Corp. will step up activity on the legal front. It did, but I thought it’d be involved in more litigation. Instead, it’s done its best to put legal problems behind it (for example, settlements with Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc.). I claim half-credit as obviously the polarity of my crystal ball was reversed.

2. Expect huge losses and major changes in management and direction at The SCO Group Inc. Another partial credit. The huge losses have certainly occurred — it’s doubtful it could last another year at the current pace unless there’s a huge infusion of cash from somewhere.

3. Linux will become firmly entrenched in the enterprise server room. The operating system has gotten a toe-hold in the server room and is making progress.

4. Privacy and user control of their own data will be the major topics. I might have been premature here, as regulatory compliance continues to be the driving force for identity management projects.

5. I saw 2004 as being the biggest year yet for politics and the Internet. Nailed that one, didn’t I? Final score, approximately 3.67 out of 5.

Now, my fearless forecast for 2005:

Novell’s Open Enterprise Server will surpass sales expectations. But a few minor but nagging problems will keep it from being a total success. Microsoft, with no new operating systems due, will hammer heavily on licensing issues.

As the economy picks up, so too will merger and acquisition activity, especially in the identity management market. Look for a half-dozen well-known companies to be assimilated this year.

Linux on the desktop finally will become a reasonable alternative to Windows for mainline business organizations.

Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at wired@vquill.com.