Software goes back to basics

As the calendar turns to 2007, analysts aren’t predicting major developments in the software space. Instead, with companies turning their attention to infrastructure issues, 2007 is looking like the year IT managers get back to basics.

David Senf, manager of software research at IDC Canada in Toronto, said desktop deployment is going to be an area of preoccupation for IT organizations, with Microsoft’s release of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.

Activity at the software infrastructure layer has been strong in 2006 and will see continued solid activity in 2007, said Senf. He added this dovetails nicely with the trend toward increasing connectivity on the desktop and to mobile devices, as you need the infrastructure in place to support it. In addition to creating an additional security challenge, management becomes more complex as well, fueling growth in IT management software.

Next year is also expected to be the year open-source enters the mainstream.

“Open source hype has been giving way to reality,” said Senf. “The lunatic fringe…is now dwarfed in number by those in the mainstream who are starting to use open source increasingly and in different capacities than it has been in the past.”

Senf cautions though that the open source market may have peaked in companies willing to consider adoption. Where the growth potential lies, said Senf, is within those companies as they widen their deployments beyond the server room.

“A very strong foundation has been built for the expansion of the footprint of open source but not a lot of additional organizations are entering into the mix,” said Senf.

Tom Eid, a research vice-president with Gartner in Stamford, Conn., agreed open source has reached the mainstream, particularly in infrastructure technologies, and now moving more into the packaged applications arena.

Compliance is driving a need for greater transparency, better reporting and better knowledge of what the business is doing. In 2007, Eid said companies will be looking to extend that visibility to operations they’ve outsourced and offshored. He added collective intelligence will also be a key trend in 2007, as concepts like wikis migrate into the enterprise environment to help fuel workgroup collaboration.

This is also expected to be a key transitional year for service-oriented architecture (SOA), said Eid, as companies reach the refresh cycle with their SOA-related technologies and leverage the next generation of portal, ERP and content management tools coming from the vendors.

While it may be a transitional year, Mark Smith, CEO and executive vice-president of research, Ventana Research, San Mateo, Calif., said he sees the SOA hype curve declining as people get back to more pragmatic concerns.

With most companies having their underlying ERP and CRM systems in place, Smith said the focus has now shifted to issues like data governance, integration and management and master data management, and ensuring the data that comes out of that BI faucet is high-quality.

“These are all bread-and-butter staples of an overall information management portfolio and companies are evolving to automate these functions,” said Smith, adding companies are also looking to leverage their information better through tools like enterprise search.

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