Next big things: Web services, mobile browsing

Two industry leaders speaking this week at the Commonwealth of Virginia IT Symposium 2003 in Roanoke acclaimed Web services as the next big thing, despite the juggernaut of hardware and networking innovation.

'We forget how incredibly remarkable it is to see [processor] growth rates continue to drive innovation, maybe even faster than five or 10 years ago,' said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager of IBM Corp.'s e-business on demand.

'The single transport mechanism'the IP backbone'was the single biggest, quietest shift that we never saw coming,' said Michael D. Capellas, chairman and CEO of bankrupt carrier MCI and former chairman of Compaq Computer Corp.

Web services based on Extensible Markup Language, Linux and grid computing will succeed, Wladawsky-Berger said, only if 'the infrastructure works flawlessly. It must cope with bursts, surges, outages and intrusions, and it must scale up to an open, integrated, autonomic, virtualized infrastructure.'

If Web services do succeed, he said, the technology 'will integrate all resources around it,' forming what he called industry ecosystems somewhat like the industrial supply chains that already exist.

For example, he said, IBM buys about $40 billion worth of products and services each year, and all its suppliers must conduct transactions electronically.

'That saves IBM a few billion dollars a year,' Wladawsky-Berger said. 'What works for one institution will work for multiple institutions. We will need more and more business expertise, because you're always part of somebody else's supply chain.'

Although Capellas also endorsed Web services, Linux and grid computing, he said mobile browsing could be an even bigger trend.

'Kids do instant messaging ceaselessly and mindlessly,' he said. 'This is why mobile browsing will happen' via wireless peer networks that will arise over the next several years to handle video streaming.

'In five years we will have continuous displacement by wireless broadband,' he said. 'WiFi is underestimated. Other protocols won't matter.'

Capellas said Linux 'has not cannibalized' Microsoft Windows as Linux proponents expected. 'It has consolidated Unix, but it leaves Windows on the edge devices. It's not a head-to-head clash.'

Meanwhile, he said, 'data is changing and is becoming unstructured. We are digitizing absolutely everything.' With data centers becoming commodities with Linux, blade servers and storage area networks, utility computing will become so much like a service that 'you buy it by the drink.'

Everyone will have multiple electronic devices for interactive streaming, gaming and browsing, he said, 'and we have to figure out how to add security to this stuff.'


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