The main thrust in enterprise systems this year has been the introduction of Windows 8 as the new Windows client OS.
Windows 8 introduces WinRT, a new programming model for Windows software development, as well as a new way of thinking about enterprise applications, through the touch user interface.
Along with desktop Windows, Microsoft introduced a new server OS, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, and Visual Studio 2012, to complete the back-end and developer tools parts of the Windows system.
Computer Weekly has also seen growing interest in 2012 of agile methodologies for traditional enterprise application development to emulate the rapid pace of innovation in the world of mobile apps.
In fact, IT experts are now talking about a tiered approach to software development: fast, quick-win projects with limited lifespan; mid-term projects that require more planning and long-term infrastructure planning.
The agile approach requires a change in mind-set for IT, and impacts testing, outsourcing and software contracts.
Windows 8 is not yet another version of Windows – Microsoft must adapt to the consumerisation of IT and it is pinning its hopes on Windows 8. “Windows 8 is a critical part of Microsoft's history. The operating system can potentially unify its fortunes,” said Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum. According to Edwards, Microsoft's success came about due to consumer pressure. When IBM attempted to establish OS/2 in the early 1990s, home PC users put pressure on
Windows 8 aims to fill a void neither Apple nor Google has yet to occupy, namely the demand for an OS that works as well on a desktop as it does carried around on a tablet. Patrick Walker, head of IT at Beaverbrooks, is attracted by the Windows 8 as a tablet OS rather than as one supporting notebook PCs. The jewellery company is hoping to extend its mobile till offering, but is waiting for Windows 8 tablets to integrate with the rest of its Windows-based systems.
Microsoft is unveiling a whole new generation of Windows on October 26th 2012, and significant changes are afoot. The biggest, and most noticeable, change will be the ushering in of a brand new application environment, called WinRT, together with an interface that has been optimized for touch and gesture control while still supporting both mouse and keyboard. Andrew Buss, Service Director and Analyst at Freeform Dynamics. Argues that Microsoft need to change its policy on Windows upgrade pricing.
One Microsoft platform era is ending and another is beginning. The .Net era, as we have known it, is winding down. .Net will not go away, however – it becomes Microsoft’s preferred server environment for the broader platform.
The .Net platform will change dramatically during the next year. The future of Microsoft’s platforms is on mobile devices and in cloud computing services, not confined to PC desktops and Intel servers alone.
Microsoft’s Server 2012 is based on the same code as Windows 8, and some new features appear in both, such as the virtual storage manager, Storage Spaces. While the client team was busy re-imagining Windows for tablets, the server team was able to take a more measured approach, building on existing features such as Hyper-V virtualisation and PowerShell automation, and continuing themes first seen in Server 2008. The extent of the changes is considerable. Virtualisation is pervasive, both for servers and hosted desktops, and Hyper-V is now a strong competitor to VMware. Microsoft is also making an effort to break the assumption that Windows Server is managed from its local graphical user interface (GUI), strongly encouraging users to install the Server Core version and to use either command-line or remote administration tools.
Payment processor VocaLink is using Precise application performance management tools to ensure the applications that power the bank automated clearing system (Bacs) and faster payments are running optimally. VocaLink is using the Precise tools to manage the performance of its Oracle relational database and WebLogic application server. Along with checking the responsiveness of the applications, Precise is also being used to check the response time of security checks.
The mainstream adoption of agile development methods is driving an increased emphasis on test automation. But will test automation allow businesses to more successfully implement agile methodologies, or erode in-house quality assurance (QA)? As more companies move from a traditional waterfall software development approach to an agile one, suppliers are offering more test automation tools and services. According to James Whittaker, development manager at Microsoft and former engineering director at Google: “The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft is test ownership is distributed differently. At Microsoft, testers own test. At Google, developers and test teams share ownership.”
The digitisation of business has brought with it an increasing reliance on software for internal and customer-facing activities. This in turn has increased the focus on software testing within the development process. This is increasing costs in terms of time, money and human resources and this in turn is accelerating the rate at which software testing is outsourced.
HBOS has used the Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi) software testing methodology across three of its four major IT departments in a programme designed to reduce the number of errors in the thousands of applications it builds every year. It will use the knowledge and processes gained as a reference point, either to help improve processes or to get its development partners to meet HBOS standards. Meanwhile, Nationwide has invested in a virtual testing environment as part of a £1bn IT transformation under which it is replacing core software platforms.
How to make IT contracts agile
Agile software methodologies have been around for years and are here to stay, yet many in the legal profession still feel they are entering unchartered waters. So what can IT professionals do to bridge the gap, and how can they best understand the lawyer's point of view? In short, how can you keep your lawyers agile? Lack of understanding of agile methodologies among legal professionals, and the resulting lack of contract precedent and "legal" case studies, are slowing down the uptake of agility in big business.
HTML5 is an emerging standard for developing cross-platform web and mobile apps. Many IT chiefs favour web and mobile applications using HTML5. Some firms, such as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Financial Times (FT), have started using HTML5 web apps rather than creating native, platform-specific apps.
In April this year, the FT’s HTML5 web app reached two million users after launching in June 2011. The media group has since dropped its native iPad app.test cross-platform web technologies.