Feature

Technology review of 2009

Budgets have been tight, spending has been cut, but the IT industry has not stood still while users tightened their purse strings.

Operating systems

Windows 7, launched in October, was the most anticipated product of the year. Microsoft hoped it had finally read the market right and given users what they wanted - a PC operating system that would make their existing desktop run faster and more securely. It is early days, but CIOs and IT directors are likely to deploy Windows 7 in 2010 and 2011.

The Linux community pushed out its desktop rival, Ubuntu 9.10. While it offers a big improvement in terms of usability and ease of installation, Ubuntu still suffers the traits of Linux, making it hard for users to switch easily from a proprietary Windows environment to open source.

Mobile phones

It has been a strong year for smartphones, with the launch of the iPhone 3G, the Blackberry Bold 9000, Nokia's E72, and Microsoft's latest mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5.

Established phone makers Nokia and Research in Motion have been busy building rivals to Apple's AppStore to provide an online marketplace for their smartphones. Microsoft has also got in on the act, with its own offering for Windows Mobile devices.

Web browsers

Internet browsers Firefox 3.5, Google Chrome 3 and Internet Explorer 8.0 shipped this year. Microsoft attempted to strengthen the security shortcomings of IE7 by breaking backwards compatibility, which meant many websites did not work as expected when viewed with the new browser.

Netbooks

2009 has been a good year for netbooks, so much so that Google is developing an Ubuntu-like Linux operating system called Chrome OS for these devices.

Computing clouds

2009 has definitely been the year of cloud computing in the software market.

Salesforce.com opened up its platform to social networking applications. A growing number of third-party software companies have bought into the Salesforce.com's Dreamforce.com cloud, to build and host commercial applications.

Amazon's elastic cloud computing (EC2) infrastructure has demonstrated to IT directors the ease of moving software development into the cloud, while Microsoft introduced its .net programming framework as a cloud-based service through Azure.

Even Cisco has got in on the act, with a strategy dubbed "Unified Service Delivery" to develop integrated servers and networking to support datacentre virtualisation.

Databases

Oracle shocked the user community and EU regulators this year with its proposed acquisition of Sun, which would see the database giant take over the Unix server company, which also owns Java and popular open source database MySQL. As the year comes to a close, Oracle still needs to convince the EU that it is acting in the best interest of its users.

Teradata pushed the limits of its hardware-optimised data warehouse with real-time query processing, using solid state storage to accelerate data access.

Meanwhile, IBM has been trying to make its z-Series mainframe platform attractive for running DB/2, WebSphere and Linux applications, through an aggressively priced licensing plan.

Green IT

In the server market, manufacturers have been tackling climate change. Given that IT generates more CO2 than the airline industry, the US Environment Protection Agency has devised a green rating for datacentre equipment.

Both AMD and Intel have looked at reducing the power consumption of their microprocessors. For instance, Intel released an energy-efficient version of the Xeon server chip.

In summary, 2009 has seen a shift in the use of technology. IT directors and CIOs are buying larger servers to reduce their overall electricity costs through server consolidation and investigating green initiatives such as teleworking, and videoconferencing. Netbooks have proved a viable alternative to full-featured laptop computers.

The industry is also pushing cloud-based services, allowing users to offload their datacentres, which helps lower carbon emissions and provides a way for netbook users to access IT services from any location.


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This was first published in December 2009

 

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