No strings attached

With some emerging technologies, it's hard to tell the hype from the reality. The promise of wireless is one such area, the promise of XML, another. In this issue of ADT we look at both these rising stars, and help to clarify what's real about their promise.

We start out with a two-part special report on wireless that takes you beyond the hype, so you can better appreciate its real, practical benefits and overcome some of its real challenges. Johanna Ambrosio, in "Legacy goes wireless," explores how to extend legacy systems to wireless devices, observing that wireless promises to provide companies a real competitive advantage by enabling personnel instant access to corporate data from any location. This achievement, however, will require some tough choices.

In his "Joining the wireless world," John Waters observes that while corporate IT has yet to significantly deploy wireless technology, IT managers appear ready for a closer look. To help them wade through these uncharted waters, he throws them a life raft, providing an overview "designed for organizations ready to dip their toes into the wireless torrent for the first time."

Another emerging technology that has fostered high expectations is XML. As with wireless, much real promise lies beneath the hype—but not without challenges to overcome. In his "XML joins the IT workforce," Rich Seeley explores XML's emergence into the corporate IT world—with numerous applications in B2B, e-commerce, EAI and wireless integration. Seeley writes, "the skeptic would be hard-pressed to find any authority in computer science who doubts that e-business can progress without XML." In "The real impact of XML," John Waters concurs, writing that at least one prominent observer believes "that history may regard XML as a more important development than HTML and even the Web."

This month's other articles are about technologies whose hype has long worn off and has been replaced by realism, namely Java, Application Service Providers (ASPs) and Linux.

Lana Gates, in her "Wake up and smell the Java," writes that one result of Java's portability as a development language is that there are now "more points of failure" requiring thorough and frequent testing, throughout the entire development life cycle. Barrie Sosinsky and C. Thai Nguyen, in "Are ASPs unsinkable?" find potential IT benefits and new economies of scale, as well as risks with ASPs, recognizing that "not all is rosy in ASP-land." And John Williams, in "Linux redux," revisits his earlier thesis that Linux is not yet ready for the enterprise. He does, however, recognize that Linux has greatly matured, notably in embedded and single-purpose systems, as an application deployment platform in the enterprise.

What started out as a look to the promises of tomorrow concludes with a sober assessment of the challenges of today—reminding us that even as we venture forth into the wireless future, there's still no such thing as "no strings attached."