The Years Top Tech Movers and Shakers

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-12-30

The Years Top Tech Movers and Shakers

MySQL AB CEO Marten Mickos gets my vote as one of the top database movers and shakers of 2003. Over the past year, this little Swedish company has been making big strides in shaking up the world of enterprise databases. While its true that the DBMS world is still owned, for the most part, by the Oracle/IBM/Microsoft trio, a growing number of enterprises are turning to the open-source paradigm upon which the MySQL database is based. MySQL Vice President of Marketing Zack Urlocker recently told me there was something like 4 million downloads of the MySQL database out there.

To satisfy the growing taste for open-source databases on the part of enterprises, MySQL took over SAPs open-source database and recently released it redubbed as MaxDB. The database reportedly has the high availability, scalability and comprehensive feature set that enterprises demand. In addition, MySQL recently received good press after an independent study found that its code is some six times cleaner than comparable proprietary code. Well give Mickos the credit as the titular head of MySQL, but in reality, the credit should go to the massive community of open-source developers who constantly give of their time and talent to keep the code rock-solid. Nice work, people.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison also ranks as one of the top database influencers of the past year, and Im not talking about his lust to devour a PeopleSoft Happy Meal. Im referring to 10g, the grid computing platform that has beta testers raving. First and foremost, beta testers whove been tinkering with Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g are gleeful about the self-managing capabliities. Now all we need are verifiable instances of how this platform will save enterprises money by deploying low-cost commodity hardware, and well forgive Larry his trespasses against PeopleSoft. Maybe. Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.

Best: Jeff Hawkins, Handspring founder, chairman and chief product officer. Its been a tough year for Handspring. With an aging product lineup and mounting losses, the company eventually sold out to Palm. But through all the turmoil, the development team released what is arguably the best smartphone on the market. Combining a RIM-like keyboard with true phone sensibility, the Treo 600 (see eWEEK Labs review) finally brings PalmOne (nee Handspring) into the 21st-century PDA market. For developing and releasing a great product, and by garnering such great carrier support, Jeff Hawkins gets my nod. Wireless Center Columnist Jim Louderback is editor in chief of Ziff Davis Internet.

We dont know who he or she really is, but the author of the Blaster worm was one of the major pains for IT this year. The author illustrated many lessons about software quality, being the first to attack a really nasty flaw in Windows, but writing a worm that itself was naive and flawed. As a result, concerted defensive efforts by IT and Microsoft headed off the worst intended effects of Blaster. This episode was one of the key ones in 2003 that led Microsoft to change security practices in upcoming products. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

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More movers and shakers

..."> My top nominee would be Ed Sketch, director of online training systems at Ford Motor Co. He led an effort to develop an online training system called the Ford Learning Network that lets Ford employees, search for, find and schedule classroom courses. The systems based on Autonomy Corp.plcs information search and retrieval technology. The goal is to eventually enable more than 350,000 Ford employees around the world to use the system to schedule training courses.

Also notable in 2003 was Gordon Castle, vice president of Internet technology at CNN, in Atlanta. Castle led a program to deploy IBMs Content Manager system that would archive more than 150,000 hours of digitized video. The system runs on a DB2 database runing on AIX servers. It provides access to CNNs video archive through WebSphere application services. The programs goal is to make it easier to resell CNNs archived video content to customers. Enterprise Applications Center Editor John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology.

In the PC space, the most disruptive and painful aspect of 2003 was a combination of the viruses that hit the Windows platform and the subsequent raft of patches. For many IT shops, the patches alone made it nearly impossible to accomplish any goal beyond keeping desktops and mobile PCs running. The platform shortcomings that created the opportunity for the problems go back years and the people writing the viruses generally have not been identified, though, of them all, the criminal who wrote the MS-Blast virus would be my nomination for the worst of 2003.

Any major effort to address this problem is, therefore, on my short list for best of 2003. So the creator of SP2, the new security-oriented comprehensive patch for Windows XP, coupled with a much more customer friendly patch process, forms the foundation for my nomination for best of 2003. This time of year is about hope and the promise of better things to come, and the beta of SP2 provides us with that hope and promise. Bill Gates, as chief software architect and chairman of Microsoft, had a big hand in making this a priority, but it was Brian Valentine who heads the Windows organization that got it done right. Therefore, Brian gets my recommendation for best of 2003.

Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology.

2003 was the best of times and the worst of times for Linux and open source. The year started with SCOs Darl McBride suing IBM, but by years end SCO was going after Linux and its license, as well as threatening to go after Linux users. While McBride remains the public face of the suit, Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager at SCO Source, is the person vendors, resellers and customers must deal with it if they elect to try to come to terms with SCO.

Linus gets the lions share of the credit for Linux, but Andrew Morton of hte Open Source Development Labs is the man who makes sure that the stable version of Linux, now 2.6, keeps improving.

And, lets not forget, the Samba Team. Samba 3.0 enables network administrators around the world to use Samba for their file/print needs not just in NT domain-based networks but now in Active Directory-based environments as well. Its thanks to Samba, more than any other program, that Linux has worked its way into Windows networks core servers. Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about Unix and Linux since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

See who eWEEKs Editor in Chief chose as the most influential tech person of 2003.

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