Companys Built on One Leg

Infoworld has been arguing that Suns Scott McNealy was right – the network is the computer. And Microsoft has been waging a largely losing war of arguing that the PC and Server make the Network necessary but not sufficient. And anybody who has not been able to connect to the Internet (or to do so with such irregularity, insecurity or so haltingly slow as to make the Web part of the problem, not the solution) – they know what “not sufficient” means. Lo and behold I find myself more in agreement with Microsoft and less in the Infoworld camp.

Now Infoworlds Ephraim Schwartz has argued why Microsoft is toast because they are determinedly one legged. And indeed Microsoft has been one-legged about how the combination of PC, Server, and Web/Network should be valued- so Redmond has gone to the other extreme and not so much deprecated the value of the network so much as they have tried to thwart it in favor of their hugely profitable desktop and server OS. Think of the Smart Client of just a few quarters ago and, just before, the final relenting on stalling on all IE and Web standards based development . Meanwhile InfoWorlds Peter Wayner in his Rich GUI Goodness review of four very promising AJAX toolkits in the November 11th 2006 issue argues AJAX truly brings desktop performance to the Web and “these tools drive another nail in the cranky, virus-ridden coffin of the operating system”.

But AJAX and the Internet are equally one-legged. Caution Caution Caution for all you Googlers, you are riding on a one-legged Internet stork. Peter picks up this idea of getting away from one-leg in his review. “There are indications that the AJAX world is working on eliminating the last advantages of the OS. The Open Source Group distributes a package that leverages the ability to store data locally on a PC.The system is fragile and relies on users installing a Flash plugin that leverages the ability to store data locally on the PC. …. it suggests that the AJAX world will conquer the ability to run offline. If this is combined with some good encryption, the AJAX application will be able to offer the user local control of files with offline access and seamless, private backup when a machine is able to reach the Internet.” This is just 6As computing – online or offline access to systems to anyone authorized, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

What Peter failed to mention is the fact that there are some equally adept GUI frameworks, battling for bragging rights in the GUI Goodness arena also known as RIA-Rich Interface Applications. Think Flash-based with OpenLaszlo and Adobe Flex, Java-based with Droplets and Nexaweb, of course the cripple known as Mono – crippled because the .NET framework must and will run best only in Windows. Now I will argue these frameworks have a headstart on AJAX on delivering the 6As in other vital aspects such as delivering Rich media content efficiently (Flash), operational speed and performance (Java and .NET on Windows only), collaboration (Java with Flash rapidly catching up) and security (both Java and Flash).

I would also argue that there is a battle royale going on in the 3 layers of application development – the Presentation Framework is how to deliver 6As computing [remember that is on any device and by implication on any OS platform], the Persistence Layer [the 6As -> ACID storage brought to any device using any combination of access methods for transactions of any length for data of any ilk: structured, semi-stuctured, and unstructured], and the 3 Cs of Command Collaboration and Collaboration layer. Software for the next winning generation will be by software vendors that are three-legged and can help organizations deliver systems that stand tall on all three layers in Monte Cristo fashion.

Now riddle me this – among Adobe, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and maybe Sun – which looks least like a one-legged, PegLeg Cont Pete ?


(c)JBSurveyer 2006
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