2001 was the year of the system administrator: Anti-virus protection, disaster recovery plans and client-side OS upgrades were all key IT tasks last year.
2002 will be the year of the developer: This year well see the start of a trend in enterprise applications away from dropping in packaged applications toward a more assemble-to-order approach.
With the advances in distributed programming technologies, it is becoming possible to use preassembled components on a really large scale. Instead of working at the intra-program level, connecting components to which they have source or object code, developers are gaining the ability to work at the inter-program level, connecting entire packed applications together. This is programming writ large.
To work effectively at this next level, we need two things.
First, we need a way to exchange data between system components. XML is the ubiquitous technology here, of course, and the database players will have a major role to play in this space. IBMs upcoming Xperanto XML engine for DB2 and its XQuery XML-based query language are two efforts to watch. In the Java space, the J2EE Connector Architecture is a major effort to unify the techniques for building data adapters to complex back ends, such as ERP applications.
For its part, Microsofts "Dragonfly" project tackles the problem of building and processing workflow rules to get data to where it needs to go.
Second, we need a way to share business logic between systems. The OS and platform vendors are ramping up their efforts here to make wide-area integration work. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) will be a key technology.
Developers will also have more options when trying to combine components at the language object layer as code-sharing technologies such as Java and Microsofts .Net mature.
Microsofts next upgrades to Windows server products are much more focused on developers than previous releases were , and the whole .Net infrastructure and tools will finally launch in mid-February.
With these technologies emerging this year, 2002 will provide more ways for enterprise IT to create compelling applications than ever before.