A vision of technology to come: October to December

In the final part of what we can expect for 2003, Sun rolls out the second phase of N1, Intel introduces the Prescott desktop...

In the final part of what we can expect for 2003, Sun rolls out the second phase of N1, Intel introduces the Prescott desktop processor, and Microsoft's Jupiter, which brings together three of its e-business servers. 


October: Sun N1 phase 2

Sun Microsystems will roll out the second phase of its far-reaching systems virtualisation strategy, N1. Systems virtualisation involves creating a layer of middleware software to manage devices that make up a computing infrastructure. The aim is to make IT management of different boxes transparent to the systems administrator.  Since resources are managed automatically, they can allocated quickly according to the needs of the business, which theoretically results in cost reductions due to increased efficiency.


Although the basic virtualisation software will have shipped early in the year, the company will make available the services provisioning component of its virtualisation architecture around November. In this phase of N1, administrators will be able to associate computer resources with specific business services, such as finance.


Policy automation during phase three next year will take this a stage further, enabling administrators to set business rules that will further automate the system. But customers will have enough of a challenge coming to terms with steps one and two, both of which represent a radical departure from traditional systems management plans.



November: The next desktop Pentium

intel will launch Prescott, its next-generation desktop processor which, according to press reports, will be manufactured on the 90-nanometre process, rather than the 130 nanometre process used on today's CPUs. 


The processor will feature an integrated security subsystem called La Grande. Although few details have been revealed, it seems likely that the technology will reflect some of the concepts laid out by the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA), an organisation developing a hardware-based security and authentication specification, co-founded by Intel in conjunction with Microsoft.


Microsoft is also working on Palladium, its own security technology. It is unclear whether La Grande will be turned on in initial versions of the processor, or whether it will be activated voluntarily by end-users.


The processor will be an enhanced version of the Intel NetBurst architecture that can be found in the P4. NetBurst includes the recently announced hyper-threading technology that enables a single Intel chip to act like two processors for multi-threaded operation.


The smaller size and enhancements to NetBurst are likely to mean much faster operation for the new processor, but Intel is unlikely to call itthe Pentium five. Rather, it may well be a significant revision to the P4.



December: Jupiter

Microsoft's strategy is to bring  business process management, electronic commerce and content management together through the creation of enterprise portals. It aims to launch the fruits of a project called Jupiter towards the end of the year.


Spread across the latter half of this year and the first half of 2004, Jupiter will bring together three of the company's existing e-business servers: BizTalk Server, which integrates applications and aggregates business processes, Commerce Server which is used to create electronic trading networks, and finally the Content Management Server which serves up dynamic content on corporate websites.


The first set of technology released by the company will focus on the business process side, targeting process automation and workflow. The product set will include support for a business process management language, called BPEL4WS, launched by Microsoft, IBM, and BEA last year. In the first half of next year, expect to see content management, commerce services and catalogue management mixed in with personalisation capabilities.


One goal for Microsoft is to integrate the new product with Visual Studio .net, its web services-focused integrated development environment. The company will use the XML protocols underpinning its .net web services strategy to create a single set of programmable interfaces into the products. In doing so, it hopes to lower the bar for businesses that want to create these integrated back-end systems. Microsoft will base Jupiter on the Common Language Infrastructure, meaning that any languages built to interoperate with Visual Studio .net can be used to program the system.



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