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Gartner’s Emerging Trends: AJAX, Model- and Event-Driven Architectures

Model-driven and event-driven architectures are two technologies expected to have a big impact on developers over the next decade. And while many IT professionals are in the dark about much of Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies,” these architectures, along with AJAX apps, have very bright futures.

The Gartner report released last week includes an analysis of 36 technologies and trends that are expected to mature within the next 10 years in a five-step process Gartner calls the “hype cycle.”

Emerging trends begin at the “technology trigger” stage with a product launch, move on to the “peak of inflated expectations” stage thanks to media-generated buzz, then advance to the “trough of disillusionment” period when the technology fails to meet developers’ expectations, proceeds to the “slope of enlightenment” phase when IT professionals continue to experiment and apply the technology despite the decline in media coverage, and finally peak at the “plateau of productivity” stage, as the industry absorbs and accepts its advantages. And the increasing popularity of SOA is responsible for these emerging technologies.

“SOA─that’s the current big wave that everyone needs to be aware of and tapped into,” said Jackie Fenn, Gartner fellow and creator of the hype cycle.

While Fenn explains that some enterprises have already begun implementing service-oriented architectures, many have yet to explore migration of their event-driven and model-driven apps to SOA. But that will likely change. “We think this is becoming a hyped and focused-on approach.”

Event-driven architecture (EDA) is a common style for distributed apps that are typically designed into modular, encapsulated, shareable components with event services. The services can be created through an app, an adapter or agent acting non-invasively. According to the report, those in the financial trading, energy trading, telecommunications and fraud detection industries have begun using EDA technology, along with the Department of Homeland Security. But Gartner says EDA is at least five years from mainstream maturity.

As for Model-driven architecture (MDA), a technology from the Object Management Group, the process will turn the heads of developers simply for its increased flexibility through SOA. The technology distinguishes biz-level functionality from the technical complexity of its implementation, enabling the apps to be modeled by standards like Unified Modeling Language. This allows the models to operate free from potential platform limitations and instantiate them into specific runtime implementations using a target platform of choice. Fenn says both MDAs and EDAs will find their niche with developers largely thanks to SOA and their bottom-line boosting perks.

And Fenn says a third “high impact” technology, AJAX, will soon enough prove influential to the dev lifecycle and should reach maturity within the next two years.

“AJAX gives you that more responsive user experience in the browser environment,” Fenn says.

The Web 2.0 technology is a combination of processes that developers use to increase functionality for their end users, metamorphosing a limited and frustrating Web app into a more readable service. While the improvements may not be extreme, the report says AJAX apps have the ability to raise bottom lines by enhancing the user-friendliness and reliability of such Web apps.

The “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2006” is one of 78 ‘hype cycle’ reports Gartner released this year. The report evaluated nearly 2,000 information technologies and trends among more than 75 industries. Gartner analysts reviewed and debated each technology within a “cross-industry view,” rating performance, services and how each technology will impact an org’s bottom line.

According to Fenn, those emerging technologies deemed “high impact” will pay the biggest dividends for businesses over the next decade. But while each trend’s maturity rate remains constant, she cautions that each technology’s benefits will vary throughout industries.

“Be selectively aggressive─identify which technologies could benefit your business, and evaluate them earlier in the hype cycle,” she says. “For technologies that will have a lower impact on your business, let others learn the difficult lessons, and adopt the technologies when they are more mature.”

About the Author

Jason Turcotte is an assistant editor at Application Development Trends. He can be reached at jturcotte@1105media.com.

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