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RIA & Ajax: Article

AJAX and Simpler Times

We live in the eternal present, yet think mostly about the future and the past

We live in the eternal present, yet think mostly about the future and the past. When we are able to stop time and consider what's going on "right now" or "these days," we often think about how our lives and times used to be simpler. How often do you recount stories from a "simpler, more innocent time?"

The truth is, there has never been a simpler, more innocent time. One doesn't need to be overly acquainted with history to realize this. But the temptation is there, to remember fondly how life used to be, somehow, easier. In the IT industry, this feeling is often invoked when thinking about an earlier age when IBM was dominant in all phases of the industry, when it was IBM being attacked by the U.S. government for alleged monopolistic practices, when no one got fired for buying IBM.

But from today's perspective, a period as recently as two years ago may seem to represent a simpler time, when WebSphere had clearly distanced itself from competitive products in the web development application space, and the only J2EE environment worth considering came from Big Blue.

Then came Open Source. It was no longer enough for IBM to put the hurt to BEA and Microsoft in this space, but now the company had to take open source web app development seriously. Sure, it seemed a remote possibility that major government agencies or Fortune 50 companies were going to take open source seriously. But the steady drumbeat of the open source movement has converted government administrators at many levels, educational institutions, large segments of the SMB market, and is percolating upward into the largest companies in the world as well, on a global basis. Then came AJAX. Not to confuse or equate the terms, but it is a reality that the mindset that is attracted to Open Source is also attracted to AJAX, which uses two widely deployed languages (JavaScript and XML) to create the websites of the present and future.

IBM hardly ignored this, loosing its Open AJAX initiative on the world a couple of months ago. But Open AJAX is, in fact, a bit too open in that it does not have a structure, a specific mission or goals, membership requirements, or milestones that will define its success.

IBM's David Boloker is a clear leader in this movement, though, and he is a compelling figure around whom any number of companies (and developers) should rally in coming months. Boloker will be speaking at SYS-CON Media's Real-World AJAX seminar in New York in June 5-6, during which time he is expected to bring attendees up to speed on IBM's vision of an Open AJAX future. The Open Source and AJAX movements can all lead one to believe that previous times were simpler. What are organizations with entrenched WebSphere application development initiatives supposed to make of all this?

Fortunately, there seems not to be a simple, binary answer to this question, as IBM seems intent on embracing all levels of budget and application complexity with its family of application development products and approaches. However, in the short, medium, and long term the company must (and will) realize that AJAX is a true genie, now out of its bottle.

Open Source is as much a political movement as a technical one. AJAX, on the other hand, is pure practicality. The idea that specific elements of a page can communicate directly with the server-rather than the old way of either encoding functionality on the desktop through JavaScript or sending the whole bloody page back to the server-is launching us into an entirely new Web 2.0 era of web design and functionality. Organizations of any size will want to, will be required to, embrace AJAX, to make their websites look better, act better, and perform better. IT managers will need to get a grip on new load balancing and overall storage management requirements. And the world will continue to seem more complex than it was in the good old day.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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