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Who Will Become the PowerBuilder of the Web 2.0 Set?

Web 2.0 environments are making the browser a full-fledged participant in enterprise computing

Judith Hurwitz's Blog

Recently I have been having déjà vu back to the days of PowerSoft. If you are old enough to remember, PowerSoft was the leader in making graphical development practical for the masses — rather than the object oriented gurus. Back in the early 1990s when PowerSoft’s product PowerBuilder  was in its heyday, it had been able to achieve dominance over arch rival Gupta Technology and a myriad of other long forgotten competitors. Ironically, at the time, Gupta had a much more sophisticated object oriented environment than PowerBuilder. But PowerBuilder was able to achieve leadership because the company found a way to make the traditional COBOL developer (and there were lots of them) very successful as graphical software designers.

The secret was that while PowerBuilder professed to be an object oriented graphical development environment, it was actually a procedural environment that was familiar to the COBOL developer. Therefore, the skills that had made this generation of developers successful in an earlier generation provided the platform for a new career path in client/server development. Therefore, PowerBuilder took the market by storm and set the path for the early success of client/server computing.

Now, fast-forward to today and the advent of Web 2.0. We are seeing lots of interesting tools such as Nexaweb, JackBe, and Kapow. All these companies have a common strategy: they want to become the PowerBuilder of this new generation of application development environments. To create a rich, collaborative environment requires a level of sophistication that would prohibit less technical developers from participating. Therefore, just as PowerBuilder provided a way for the masses to create a graphical first generation environment, so this next generation of development tools will bring Web 2.0 to a broad audience. These web development environments provide the dynamic, stateful approach needed to create Web 2.0 environments.

I think that this movement towards Web 2.0 and these abstracted tools to support them will complete the picture of a service oriented architecture. The Web 2.0 environment is making the browser environment a full-fledged participant in enterprise computing. Over time, we’ll see lots of business people creating compelling business services in this way focused on innovative, collaborative software that provides a rich client environment that provides sophisticated communications, as well as a stateful distributed computing platform. This is not an easy feat but one that some innovative players are going to grab to become the PowerBuilder of the Web 2.0 set.

More Stories By Judith Hurwitz

Judith S. Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, LLC, a research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology including big data, cognitive computing, cloud computing, service management, software development, and security and governance. She is a technology strategist, consultant, thought leader and author. In 2015 Hurwitz coauthored Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics (Wiley, 2015). A pioneer in anticipating technology innovation and adoption, she has served as a trusted advisor to many industry leaders over the years. Judith has helped these companies make the transition to a new business model focused on the business value of emerging platforms. She was the founder of CycleBridge, a life sciences software consulting firm and Hurwitz Group, a research and consulting firm. She has worked in various corporations including Apollo Computer, and John Hancock. Judith has written extensively about all aspects of enterprise and distributed software. Judith is a co-author of six “For Dummies” books including Big Data for Dummies and Hybrid Cloud for Dummies. In 2011 she authored Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance into Success. (Jossey Bass, 2011).

Judith holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Boston University. She serves on several advisory boards of emerging companies. She is on the board of directors of Boston University’s Alumni Council. She was named a distinguished alumnus at Boston University's College of Arts & Sciences in 2005. She is also a recipient of the 2005 Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council award.

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