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Predictions, Predictions...

Predictions, Predictions...

The start of a new year is traditionally a time when we reflect on where we've been for the past year, and what we hope for the coming year. Magazine editors take this opportunity to take part in an age-old ritual, making predictions for the new year. What will the industry achieve during the upcoming year? What struggles and opportunities will we reflect on this time next year? To be honest, I don't believe too much in prediction making; for the most part none of it comes to pass exactly as we had thought. But, I have this inner urge to say something about the year to come, and how those in the BEA development community will fare over the next 12 months.

First, with the economic downturn over the past two years, we've seen the industry turned upside down, shaken violently, and dropped on its proverbial head. The economy seems to be picking up, along with IT budgets - good, you might say, for all of us. But, corporate IT spending is not the same as it was two years ago. To survive, firms have learned to become lean and mean and have become quite frugal when it comes to any kind of spending.

We've all felt the squeeze over the last year, whether it is the reluctance of a customer to buy our product, clients demanding bargain-basement consulting rates, or corporations outsourcing their work offshore. I believe this trend will continue over the next year. Whether or not it gets worse will be somewhat a matter of IT resource supply and demand.

But I believe our current problems go deeper than that. I believe we have come to a point where the time and effort required to develop quality software (i.e., doing it the right way) is grossly out of proportion with the amount of money people or corporations are willing to pay. Part of this thinking may be due to being indoctrinated on the Internet to believe that we are entitled to get software for free.

To compound things further, business applications for the most part are relatively short lived and often require regular updates to keep up with the rapid changes in business. It just doesn't make sense to pay exorbitant costs for something that depreciates so fast.

So here is my second prediction. In order to deal with the various funding and development cost pressures, the IT industry will be seeking software development solutions that enable developers to produce the most functionality for the dollar. It's not just core software development costs that are the issue. Whether we realize it or not, the amount of time developers are spending dealing with configuration and integration issues has increased over the past several years. Given today's technology, good configuration management practices are a key component of software development, where you literally have hundreds, if not thousands, of system components that have to fit together just right.

As for the third prediction, full-featured software IDE development products, such as BEA WebLogic Workshop with its ability to produce a lot of functionality in a fraction of the time and handle a good portion of your configuration and deployment concerns, will come into their own and be increasingly seen as a viable solution to the dilemma in which we find ourselves.

Enough with the predictions and on to some things of which I am a little more certain. Beginning with this issue, we have three new monthly columns for you to enjoy. First, for those of us who are inclined to studying blueprints all day, we have a column that will explore various architectural subjects related to WebLogic Server platform development. For those responsible for keeping the systems up and running, a new WebLogic Server Administrators column will provide monthly tips to help you do the job right. And finally, we have a column that deals strictly with support issues and what to do when things go awry.

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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