From the Editor in Chief

Religion and politics shouldn't mix with Product of the Year or your product choicesIRELAND, THE LAND of my parents' birth, has been the scene of sectarian violence fueled by religious zealots for centuries. Fortunately, peace may finally be at hand as the political leadership of the two dominant religious traditions on an island barely bigger than the state of Massachusetts finally come to an accommodation.

Arguably, the two worst things that ever happened to the people of Ireland was the arrival of St. Patrick, followed a few centuries later by a fellow named Strongbow, the first English noble to invade Ireland.

Once these events took place, the stage was set for Ireland to become a pawn in a series of political battles that has cost millions of lives over the course of eight centuries.

Every day a similar drama plays out on a smaller scale in IT organizations -- the spoils of the war between vendors.

The problem is that many of the people who work in those IT departments lose sight of where their first loyalties lie.

Rather than getting caught up in a battle over the virtues of Java over C++, Lotus Notes vs. a pure Web server, or Linux vs. Windows NT, IT professionals should put the interests of the companies that they work for ahead of their personal biases.

This means that, when it comes to religious battles over technology, IT professionals need to remain strictly nonaligned.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as the perfect product or perfect technology. In fact, products and technologies make up only half of any successful IT equation.

The other half of the equation is the knowledge and ability of the IT workers to implement the products and technologies into a meaningful solution for their particular business circumstances. Time and again, we've seen inexperienced people use the wrong products and technologies to solve problems that nobody cared about.

Most of the time, people use the wrong technology or product because they have an irrational commitment to somebody else's agenda.

After all, the only people who really care whether an IT organization uses Java or not are those who work for companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM.

That's not to say that people shouldn't use Java, it's just that the choice should be based on the task at hand and not the passions of the moment.

For example, if you're a Windows NT shop but need a server appliance that rarely goes down, use Linux. Conversely, if you're committed to Linux but need an application that runs on Windows NT, use Windows NT.

All of this brings us to the InfoWorld Product of the Year.

In this week's issue, the InfoWorld Test Center presents awards to what it believes were the most significant products of 1999.

You will note that the Test Center did not select one single product as the Product of the Year but rather bestowed awards on products across a range of categories.

Trying to select a single product over all others would have been an unrealistic undertaking. Once more, it would have been a disservice to our readers because it would have served only to fuel partisan political agendas.

That said, feel free to agree or disagree with our choices. We're confident that all the Product of the Year selections were made on the basis of rational rather than emotional considerations.

And if you need to invoke Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Confucius, Odin, Ra, Zeus , or anybody else to get through your IT day, feel free to do that, as well.

Just don't yell at the person next to you if they invoke some other deity or, heaven forbid, recommend some other technology solution.

Got a different view? Write to me at

Michael Vizard is editor in chief at InfoWorld.

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