Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Predictions for 2008

First of all, I'd like to wish the PHP & other Web communities a happy new year. 2007 has been a great year for the Web and the IT industry as a whole and I believe despite the economic worries, 2008 will be no different.

The following are some predictions I make about 2008. I'm looking forward to seeing how many of these actually come true.

Java on the Web continues to lose market share

While Java is a good platform for a variety of software tasks, I believe it has never been very good when it comes to the Web. Despite the dozens of Java Web frameworks which have promised an end to traditional Java EE suffering I believe not much has changed. Java is still a technology which is not suited for today's modern Web applications especially as it takes far too long and is far too expensive to deliver Java-based Web applications. In addition, JVM's just don't scale out as well as Apache/PHP-like solutions and the unpredictability of the garbage collector still makes the "thrown more memory on the problem" the most common solution for solving Java production issues.

I believe the "Java is the answer. What is the question?" crowd is waking up. I predict that in 2008, Java will continue to lose market share to both ASP.NET and dynamic languages, led by PHP. Dynamic languages on the JVM just won't cut it, and besides making some of the high-end Java EE users happy, it won't save Java on the Web.


The next layer of the virtualization eco-system will start thriving

As I pointed out back in April 2007 I believe we are still at the very beginning of realizing the value of virtualization. There are vast opportunities to leverage virtualization to deliver innovative IT solutions. Probably the major advantage that I see is the ability to deliver solutions which are non-intrusive to the guest OS. VMWare has already started enabling this eco-system by creating a set of APIs on top of their solution which security vendors can then leverage. While it seems security is VMWare's first choice, I believe this idea can be expanded into many other areas.

I predict that in 2008 we will see the first product concepts come out at least as previews on these set of APIs.

Hybrid Rich Internet Applications become an accepted "standard"

The battle for dominating client-side development has been going on for a while. At the center have been the technologies related to Ajax including the dozens of Ajax toolkits (open-source and commercial) and (mostly) proprietary technologies like Flash/Flex. In 2006 there were two significant events in this space. The first related to the OpenAjax Alliance, formed in late 2005, which started delivering specs for various Ajax standards including a client-side Hub. (Side note: Zend was one of the founding companies and later on non-Ajax vendors like Adobe/Microsoft also joined). The second was the launch of Microsoft's Silverlight browser plug-in (not as cross-platform and cross-browser as Microsoft would like it to appear, but significant regardless).

I believe 2007 has already been a wake up call to the industry that no one company or one Ajax toolkit will run away with the whole pie (i.e. there will not be a sole winner). Instead, I predict in 2008 we will see more solutions by the leading vendors which will offer hybrid development of Ajax toolkits, OpenAjax standards, and proprietary solutions like Flex & Sliverlight.


"Hardware On Demand" becomes real

Surely anyone reading this blog is familiar with Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). While I believe "Utility Computing" is the official term I still think "H-O-D" is a better description of the value EC2 is delivering. There is huge value in this new paradigm of acquiring resources. Not only for dealing with the traditional "peak-time" problem by being able to scale-up and scale-down resources quickly and in a cost effective manner, but also in a variety of other ways including easier to manage IT resources (no need to think about power, cables, etc...), easy to obtain infrastructure for quality assurance especially when a large amount of machines are required, and many other uses.

For various reasons this kind of utility computing still hasn't had a lot of real success such as a large Fortune 100 moving applications to these solutions or a large Web site running and scaling on such infrastructure. Over the past months I have seen more and more of our customers show interest in such solutions, some of them very large companies. So my prediction for 2008 is that we will see at least one major game changing success story on a "Hardware On Demand" solution.


One of the major non-Eclipse vendors will lead a new Eclipse.org tooling project

The Eclipse Foundation leads the richest and most vibrant open-standards eco-system around tooling and other industry standards. Mainly due to the Java industry having standardized on the Eclipse platform as the foundation for its tools, a large amount of the application lifecycle tooling industry and other industries have standardized on Eclipse. Due to the ubiquity of the Eclipse Platform, many vendors with proprietary platforms have also worked with Eclipse in order to use Eclipse as a vehicle to reach their target audiences.

I therefore predict that in 2008 we will see one of the non-Eclipse ISVs lead a developer tooling project at the Eclipse Foundation (or at least announce a major new tooling solution for free on Eclipse). The goal will be to leverage Eclipse in order to achieve greater ubiquity for their solutions.


Who will be acquired in 2008?

Not many BI vendors left, so I'll stay off that subject :)

Predicting acquisitions is always hard but I'll take a shot:

- Zoho (AdventNet) may be a target for one of the larger Web 2.0 companies and/or traditional Enterprise software companies. In the heat of the battle for the leadership around the Web productivity suite I think some of these vendors will want to cut their time to market. On a side note, I don't really believe in the Web OS as much as I believe in great applications. I believe that applications in conjunction with Web services will be driving the next-generation platforms and not specific Web containers like the Web OSes are trying to define.

- Intacct which delivers on-demand ERP (built-on PHP) is one of the leading ERP solutions which integrates well with Salesforce.com. With Netsuite having gone public I believe the pressure on Salesforce.com to deliver a full solution goes up. Acquiring Intacct would be a way to shortcut that process. Main blocker: If Salesforce.com Java purists make it a technological issue... Hint: Religion rarely pays off when it comes to business.

- MySQL - This is a long shot. MySQL has been very vocal about wanting to go public so that's probably the safe bet. But I still think there's a chance that it'd be more beneficial for some of the big guys to actually gobble up MySQL instead of seeing MySQL go public (see what Redhat did to the traditional UNIX market). Sure that today MySQL has a hard time competing with the traditional Enterprise database market but that may be just another reason why having a solution for the new markets can be a very complimentary offering. At the end of the day cash talks.


Enough predicting.


I'll finish off with some of the blogs I most enjoyed in 2007:

- Ajaxian - Keeps me current on what's happening in the RIA world.

- Scott Guthrie's blog - Scott is a General Manager in the Microsoft Developer Division. I like the blog for a a couple of reasons. First it keeps me up-to-date with what's happening with ASP.NET; second, it amazes me how he manages to find time to write such good in-depth blog entries. (Scott recommended Windows Live Writer as a blog editor to me; that's what I'm using now, it works with blogger.com, is free and I find it very convenient).

- Presentation Zen (not Zend) - Very useful blog and hopefully will improve my presentation skills. Today I got my pre-ordered copy of the just published book.

- Stephen O'Grady from Redmonk - I must admit I don't care too much for his sports related entries but there are always interesting insights and links on this blog. He's just a very smart guy and in response to Zak Urlocker's entry, at least Stephen always makes it clear who's a paying customer which makes it easier for readers to make up their own mind on how they want to interpret what he's writing.

The list is getting long and there are lots of other blogs I love. Let me just say thanks to Planet PHP which helps me keep in touch with our great community, a source of inspiration.

Happy New Year!


  1. What exactly makes you believe that it takes longer to develop an Java-based web application than a PHP one? Have you even looked at the state of Java web frameworks in the last few years? Did you review EJB 3.0, especially JPA? Did you evaluate Struts 2? Do you know Spring Web Flow? Or JBoss Seam?

  2. Yes, JBoss Seam, EJB 3.0, Struts 2, Wicket, Stripes, JPA or GRails if you like Groovy.. I have tried them all. No one can catch up with PHP productivity.

    What I like from Java world is JMS

  3. Nils,

    Indeed what I still see is a huge difference in developer productivity between Java and other Web solutions. In the past couple of years I have experienced a large amount of Java-centric companies embrace lighter weight solutions like PHP because of the productivity gains and significantly lower TCO. I have no doubt that a shift is happening which is why the Java EE vendors are literally scrambling to try and get some dynamic languages onto the JVM. Currently solutions like PHP and Ruby are moving customers off of the memory hungry JVM and is risking their platforms.

    I have both done old school Enterprise Websphere development and I have been keeping up with the state of Java Web frameworks. There has definitely been progress. EJB 3 is progress but it's still *far* more complex than what you have to deal with on other platforms.

    Again, I think there are a lot of merits to Java but unfortunately I don't think most Web loads are Java's sweet spot.

  4. Mind me for some criticism, but it is hard to take seriously an year prediction for Web development matters when you have not mentioned Google explicitly anywhere.

    As a PHP developer, I simpathsize with the fact that you mentioned many PHP based products, but nobody serious can neglect what Google been doing and continue to do, even when most what they do is not PHP based.

    For instance, you mention the virtualization of the eco-system, but you did not mention Google Apps. You also mention Hybrid Rich Internet Applications, but you did not mention Google Gears.

    There are Google products related with your other post topics but I do not think they are so relevant, like Google Web Toolkit.

    Other than that, it is always interesting to see what people expect for the future. Google post.

  5. Hi Manuel,

    No doubt there are a lot of other things happening in our industry and around us in the Web community. This is a short list of predictions that I came up with and there's a good chance I'll be wrong :) It is surely not complete as our industry is so vibrant and changing every day.

    Btw, most of my predictions aren't really directly related to PHP but more general although most of them do touch the professional PHP/Web shop in some for or another.

    Google definitely also has some tricks up their sleeves. It'll be interesting to see if they manage to have a broad impact with them like AdWords did, or like Amazon EC2 may have down the road.

    Happy New Year!

  6. "Sure that today MySQL has a hard time competing with the traditional Enterprise database market..."

    Maybe this is because MySQL should make an effort to leave behind the "toy database company" status. With an acquisition, capital infusion from Redwood City, CA and a complete re-write (maybe in Java, the language you down play so much), I might consider MySQL database enough to handle my data in production.
    Other than this, I like toying too.

  7. 'Maybe this is because MySQL should make an effort to leave behind the "toy database company" status.'


    Quoted for truth. Despite MySQL's efforts for saying (sic) that they're at the same level that real RDBMS, MySQL is still a toy for using on blogs and forums.

  8. Andi,

    Thanks for the Ajaxian mention. We *really* need to do that lunch. Geez :)



  9. Andi, do you think that PHP will change dramatically in Q4 2008 or in 2009 so that they begin a deprecation cycle of oddball inconsistencies in parameter order? How about other defenses from some of the other top 10 items from the anti-PHP crowd? PHP is my primary language for development, and so this is a concern of mine.

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