Three Predictions: Languages, Databases, and Collaboration

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Ask any of the reporters that I’ve worked with before, and they may tell you that I’m very fond of the phrase “it’s too early to say,” or “it could go any number of ways.” As an example, in discussing Project Harmony earlier in the week I said the following:

Ultimately I’d count myself undecided on the subject of Harmony’s merits, but I’m at least mildly concerned. That said, I think we’ve got a ways to go before we know what the impact of Harmony will be.

If one was of a cynical mindset, they might call this equivocating; for my part, I prefer to think of it as being thoughtful and reserved. Having seen so many ill-considered predictions be proven dramatically wrong in my time, I try to make predictions only when I’m reasonably sure of the outcome and have an acute awareness of the variables involved. Also, I think too many predictions are based on logical fallacies; technology A killing technology B and so forth. So, of course, I’m here to make three predictions for the next 12 months:

  1. Languages: The P’s (and maybe Ruby), will finally become first class citizens in many Java and .NET shops. Many analyses of the adoption of these languages focus on the growth of, say, PHP at the expense of Java or .NET. In some limited cases, this might be true, but overall I think it’s merely a recognition that PHP was already being used within the enterprise. Now it’s just official. Throw in the fact that supporters of the scripting languages like Zend are tying up with big players in the Java camp, and we have indications that the scripters will finally get their day in the sun.
  2. Databases: Relational databases will begin to be augmented by non-relational stores. These might be XML based, objected oriented, full text indexing & search, or otherwise – but the fact remains that the relational model is proving less than ideal for certain workloads, particularly in distributed or federated scenarios. Is Atom/RSS the default format for these new persistence mechanisms? Bosworth thinks it’s possible [Powerpoint warning], and given my feed consumption today versus a year ago, I’m inclined to agree. But either way, I think new data management projects will increasingly examine non-relational stores rather than just default to MySQL/DB2/Oracle/SQL Server as they might have in the past.
  3. Collaboration: The next 12 months will see more innovation in the collaboration space – particularly calendars – than the past few years combined. The trend is not attributable to any single project or standard, IMO, but rather to a general recognition that there are achieveable improvements in collaboration technologies that dramatically enhance productivity. Software-as-a-Service (Airset, Trumba), open source (Hula), open standards (iCal), and social software (Upcoming.org, iCalShare) all have roles to play. But the technology to do this has been around for a while; what I’ve been seeing more recently is actual demand and interest from a user perspective. With Craigslist driving awareness of RSS, feeds, etc into the mainstream, ordinary non-technical people are beginning to look at their complex schedules and thinking, “there has to be a better way to do this.” Turns out, there might just be.

So mark all those down, and let’s come back to this in a year to see how I did.


  1. Hmm, I'm trailing your old feeds here, do you have a deeper analysis of enterprise class non-relational stores?

  2. Hmm, I think I asked for this in a comment earlier today… http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&…

  3. hi Andy, sorry for the delayed response. this got buried as an older post. but anyhow, the article you point to i think is a great example of the non-relational store. Sleepycat's got a great reputation amongst discerning technologists as fast, scalable, etc. but it still is perceived as a niche or non-mainstream play. i think what we'll see in the months ahead is a recognition that non-mainstream players like Sleepycat or Thunderstone might have a place in next generation distributed architectures. time will tell, of course, but if the conversations i have are anything to go by that's what i think we'll see.

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