Move Forward and Leave the Worst Behind

Much of the surplus now resides in warehouses or is being bartered on eBay.

I was in line at the Las Vegas Hilton coffee shop, waiting for that extra-large cup of coffee, when I realized this wireless thing had gone too far. In front of me, an N+I exhibitor (I could tell by the badge dangling from his neck) was trying to order a half-latte, half-cappuccino while attempting to answer an e-mail on his laptop and answer a call on his cell phone. This e-mail-challenged individual was not alone in Vegas last week.

Given access, people will do e-mail in taxis, restrooms and coffee lines. After way too many wireless product demonstrations last week, I came away from the show wondering, Why bother going to the show floor at all? Why not just plug in your wireless adapter and watch the demos from your room?

In the midst of this wireless e-mail land, Cisco President John Chambers ignited a technology rally on Wall Street simply by implying that the worst was behind the tech business. I think he may be correct. Much of the surplus now resides in warehouses or is being bartered on eBay. And a new round of products is offering price and performance capabilities that make the surplus equipment look like, well, surplus.

Can a 7-year-old be mature? In the case of the application market, it appears so. In this weeks issue, West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck dives into the innards of BEAs WebLogic Server and Macromedias ColdFusion MX Server to provide an in-depth, hands-on look at these new application servers ("App Servers Mature"). If the promise of Web services is ever going to be delivered, it will be on the backs of products like these. For all you app server historians ready to hurl e-mail at me asking why do I call this business a 7-year-old, I mark the start of the business with the founding of Kiva Software in 1995.

And I mark the start of HP-Compaq as of last week. There are plans, and there is reality, and the new combined company is rapidly finding the difference between the two. As the company unveils its product plans ("HP Adopt and Slow Down"), the company executives must find a way to soothe the hurt feelings of those who committed their companys infrastructure to product lines that will be dropped. At the same time, the company must move forward without starting to second-guess which lines will be supported, combined or dropped. The next six months will be a telling time for the future of the combined company.

Think the worst is over for the tech industry? Write to me at