Opinion: Predictions: Software development, Web services

Our call for predictions regarding the future of software development and Web services yielded a bumper crop of interesting insights.

By 2007, software systems will be developed and maintained through collaborative development environments, consisting of thousands of moving parts that are never turned off. This will transform the Java programming environment as we know it today, through aspect-oriented programming and various domain-specific graphical and textual languages. -- Grady Booch, chief scientist, IBM's Rational software group.

A world in which we construct software in the same manner as we construct automobiles is not that far off. Assembly will be the operative word. Over the next three to five years, best-of-breed software components, developed internally or discovered externally, will form the building blocks, and Web services will be the glue that binds the components together to form new applications. -- Fergal Mullen, venture capitalist, Highland Capital Partners.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Web-based applications is that developers will for the first time see how users interact with their applications. Using traditional Web analytics tools, developers will get firsthand insight into how their applications can be improved. -- Barry Parshall, product strategist, WebTrends, a unit of NetIQ Corp.

Over the next five years, the government will emerge as a leader in IT and become the driver behind private-sector IT innovation. Federal agencies -- under pressure to save money and get more efficiency from IT -- are exploring the value of Web services, and they are driving the adoption of personal certificates for secure access to those services. The private sector should keep its eye on the government. -- Robert E. LaRose, president and CEO, Integic.

In five years, companies are going to be spending as much on external, business-to-business IT as on internal IT. We've simply reached the point of diminishing returns when it comes to internal IT. The real IT stars will be the ones who prove themselves in the B2B world. -- John Radko, chief architect, Global Exchange Services.

Software development and security will finally merge into one process. By mid-2004, designs for new software applications will include a functional specification, a technical specification and a detailed application security specification. Quality assurance (QA) personnel will develop test plans that fully validate application security conformance. And tools used by both developers and QA staffers will automate much of the security development and testing processes. -- Brian Cohen, president and CEO, SPI Dynamics.

While Web services nirvana may still be two to three years away, companies can begin moving toward that goal and gain early business benefits by putting a service-based architecture in place. A service-based architecture allows companies to expose and reuse data as a service and should be considered a secure steppingstone to a full Web services implementation. -- Paul Roth, chief technology officer, CommerceQuest.

Corporate IT is in the midst of a huge transition to a service-oriented architecture. Loosely coupled systems will reduce the cost of building and integrating applications by a factor of 10. However, it may take five years for this change to be pervasive across organizations. IT leaders should be looking today at development approaches and architectures that let them manage a smooth transition without requiring them to throw away the last 10 years of development or get locked into a proprietary platform. -- Mansour Safai, CEO, M7.

By the second quarter of 2004, enterprises will begin the next trend in enterprise application integration: Portal publishing across the Web. In other words, businesses will publish software services in the form of fully and easily integratable portlets, which can eliminate costly integration projects with business partners. It also means better control of application versioning and business rules. -- Bill Moher, director, Tallan.

By 2010, the use of programming languages to develop business applications will be a thing of the past. Instead, we'll use reusable and configurable components -- and natural-language-like tools -- for the definition of business logic and rules. -- Bonny K. Eappen, insurance practice director, Tata Consultancy Services.

The future is about rich user interface. The unrestrained enthusiasm for browser-based applications has generated countless applications with poor usability. In the last four years, we have seen IBM and Microsoft focusing on Web-based server-side technologies, but little progress has been made in improving the user interface for the client side (with Macromedia being the notable exception). That will change in the next few years as companies focus on filling the usability gap with smarter clients, user interface servers and network-based services. -- Nars Krishnamachari, solutions architect, SBI and Co.

By 2006, 80 percent of all integrated software-development environments will, by default, be producing Web services-compliant code. -- Rajiv Gupta, founder and CEO, Confluent Software.

In seven years, the process of building complex, networked and distributed enterprise software applications will finally become as easy as building towers with Lego blocks. Integration software costs will plummet, and organizations will be able to implement projects faster, with superior return on investment. -- Atul Saini, CEO and chief technology officer, Fiorano Software.

In seven years, the next new application development and runtime platform will be based on grid computing and will relegate the current application servers to legacy transaction platforms. -- Dave Bennett, chief technology officer, Cyclone Commerce.

We'll have true on-demand, adaptive computing when people start building applications that can morph automatically like a spreadsheet and then hook these applications up to self-correcting feedback mechanisms. For 15 years, the CAD/CAM industry has been using similar techniques to design products: Engineers create virtual models of parts and then input changes that cause the system to automatically regenerate the parts until they are optimized for strength, cost and performance. In the next 12 months, the same will happen for software applications. As users interact with the applications, the applications will self-regenerate to perform differently in an ever-changing environment. -- Andy Roberts, chief technology officer, Bowstreet.

In the next two years, all integration will become XML integration. Integration security will become XML security, and integration management will become XML management. -- Mark O'Neill, chief technology officer, Vordel.

The enterprise application integration market will disappear as a stand-alone category in 2005. The ability to integrate a software package with other applications in the enterprise, via Web services standards, will be a mandatory feature in any viable software product. -- James Phillips, senior vice president, Actional.

IT managers are tired of keeping up with hundreds of software patches to fix software vulnerabilities. Within the next two years, more and more enterprise software vendors will incorporate features for diagnosis and automated remediation into their products. This will enable the proactive deployment of patches for security problems and other vulnerabilities and improve the serviceability of critical enterprise applications. IT managers will view these automated application management elements as must-haves when purchasing software. -- Al Wasserberger, CEO and president, Spirian Technologies.

Within five years, packaged enterprise application software as we know it will cease to exist. There will be a return to custom application development, but this time, applications will be built by assembling packaged components and business processes via Web services standards. Three of the top 10 packaged application vendors will fail to make the shift to the new model and will become irrelevant. -- James Phillips, senior vice president, Actional.

Financial institutions will increasingly use Web services to authorize, transact and settle directly with each other, bypassing automated clearinghouse and commercial debit/credit switches. Within 10 years, real-time (point-to-point) authorization and settlement will become the e-commerce payment standard. -- Frank Sanchez, CEO, Sanchez Computer Associates.

In five years, Web services will be the dominant technology for enterprise application integration, and only half of the current players in the business will survive. -- John Radko, chief architect, Global eXchange Services.

By 2006, production Web services will occur in mass primarily for internal application integration, external portal integration and desktop productivity. Until the semantics are the key focus of interoperability in the Web service standards, business-to-business adoption will lag mass production deployments. -- Dave Bennett, chief technology officer, Cyclone Commerce.

The advent of agile and extreme programming (XP) development methodologies will change the way we build software. By staying close to your goals and building features as they are requested, Agile and XP methodologies are making developers successful, fulfilling customers' dreams and producing quality work.

By mid-2004, the proliferation of Web services within the enterprise, like the proliferation of departmental networks and PCs, will become a crisis to centralized IT organizations. Ad hoc adoption of unmanaged Web services will lead to at least two well-publicized system outages at major corporations, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in loss. By 2005, all major corporations will have comprehensive management strategies for their Web service networks. -- Dan Foody, chief technology officer, Actional.

Over the next five to 10 years, Web services will completely alter the way citizens interact with government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, and it will be critical for IT vendors supplying government to incorporate Web services in their products and solutions. We will see government Web services extended from intra-agency to interagency, allowing multiple services to be provided through a single channel. Achieving this vision will require extensive integration of existing applications, and the leading suppliers will partner with government to develop innovative ways to offer improved services to citizens and to make it easier to take advantage of those services through the application of this technology. -- Paul Turner, executive vice president and chief technology officer, American Management Systems.

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