David Cearley

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

David W. Cearley

18 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

David Cearley is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research and is a leading authority on information technology. As a member of Gartner Research, Mr. Cearley analyzes emerging business and technology trends and explores how these trends shape the way individuals....Read Full Bio

Mix 2009: Microsoft’s “version 3.0” offering for Web Designers and Developers is here. Now the battle begins!

by David Cearley  |  March 19, 2009  |  Comments Off

 Who hasn’t heard of the Microsoft rule of 3?  It is said that you need to wait for version 3.0 of a Microsoft product to see the “real” offering.  A version of this dynamic is playing itself out at Microsoft Mix 2009. 


Although Microsoft has enjoyed a dominant position with traditional software developers creating desktop and client/server applications it has not been a major force in the web site design and development market.  Microsoft has used the Mix conference to engage Web site designers and developers and position itself as a strategic supplier to this community.  It has taken three years and four Mix events for Microsoft deliver what one can now consider it’s complete “version 3.0 offering” for Web designers and developers.


Think of Mix 2006 the beta release of Microsoft’s web design and development strategy.  At Mix 2006 Microsoft didn’t really have a lot to offer the web developer community.  They presented a broad vision and were primarily in “requirements gathering” mode. 


Consider Mix 2007 release 1.0.  Microsoft released basic capabilities for the new (to Microosft at least) developer constituency.  Silverlight sent a major signal that Microsoft was looking beyond “the desktop” and considered the browser and RIA an important design point.   However, taken together Microsoft’s offerings were incomplete and/or inadequate for most web developers.  Nevertheless version 1 succeeded in getting some web developers to use a Microsoft product and enabled it to learn more about the needs, wants, desires and biases of web site designers and developers.


Mix 2008 was release 2.0 and we saw major upgrades and extensions to Microsoft offerings.  New capabilities such as deep zoom and further enhancement to Silverlight showed that Microsoft was serious about moving beyond the Windows desktop.  Microsoft showed it was serious about enabling a rich web/browser centric experience.  Significant gaps still existed in it’s offerings for web designers/developers but enough was in place to attract companies such as NBC to show what a Microsoft Web development environment could produce.  Many web developers were still not convinced Microsoft could meet all their needs but interest was growing.


This brings us to Mix 2009.  This is release 3 of Microsoft’s web design and development portfolio.   On the IE 8 front Microsoft has now reached parity in compliance with open web standards. With upgrades and extensions to Silverlight as and Blend – especially the addition of the SketchFlow design tool –the key elements are now in place.  While some gaps remain, Microsoft can now meet the primary of Web designers and developers.  Microsoft has the breadth and depth to compete for the hearts and minds of the Web developer community. 


Now the real battle begins.


Will Microsoft automatically win this war?  Is Adobe and everyone else delivering web development and design tools living on borrowed time?  Will Microsoft’s dominant position in the desktop, office and collaboration spaces mean it will inevitably dominate this market as well?  In a word – No.


Many factors will impact Microsoft’s success in the Web design and development market.  The next three years will be all about execution.  Expect intense battles between vendors as they compete to provide tools that make web sites and applications easier to develop with a richer experience for users. Web designers and developers have already chosen tools and Adobe in particular has significant market momentum.  Adobe will not sit still and even Microsoft recognizes that tools such as Illustrator and Photoshop will remain important tools.  Air has significant momentum and Flex currently has a dominant position with early adopter enterprise developers and ISVs creating rich internet applications.  In addition, many people in the world of the Web, Java and Open source simply don’t like Microsoft.  Microsoft will need to convince them that they are not the “evil empire”.  Inside Microsoft there will likely be ongoing debates between those that want to promote a Windows desktop centric approach and those that promote a Web centric approach.  Microsoft must deal with these market perceptions and internal corporate dynamics to succeed.  Ultimately the most likely scenario is one in which Microsoft is a major supplier to the Web design and development market but Adobe and others remain major suppliers as well.  


One final thought.  Competition drives innovation and customer value.  Web design and development is an area where Microsoft faces intense competition.  We are likely to see more innovation from this area than more traditional software development markets.  As a result web-centric design concepts and related tools will likely influence Microsoft’s “core” offerings.  On the developer front SketchFlow could become the design tool for all application development projects.  On the Windows front the focus on RIA could mean that in the long term WPF is dead and Silverlight+ becomes the UI foundation. 


This is going to be an interesting three years.

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How Gartner Creates The Top 10 Strategic Technologies List

by David Cearley  |  October 15, 2008  |  1 Comment

I’ve been getting a number of questions asking how we go about creating the top 10 strategic technologies list and how we intend for our clients to use it.  We do have a methodology  for evaluating technologies for inclusion but the process is not a quantitative rating process.  The methodology defines how we go about our qualitative asessment. 

Identification of technologies for consideration is an ongoing process.  Input comes from many sources:  gartner research tools such as the hype cycle, discussions with Gartner research communities, surveys and input from end users, discussions with other researchers (e.g., technology vendors and academics), and other research efforts (e.g., studying the chatter in the blogosphere).


To be considered for the list a technology should have the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Other factors that we use to evaluate inclusion and ranking are:  breadth of impact across geographies and industries; level of near term impact – either positive or negative – on the enterprise; clear and direct business impact; potential for IT cost savings from use of this technology; potential disruption to IT markets; IT dpearments, business models or end users; and the risk of ignoring the technology.  Given the concerns regarding the economy this year’s list places particular emphasis on cost savings and impact on “run the business” activities.

The list is not a comprehensive list of all technologies that a company might consider strategic.  Mainstream technologies that are part of the strategic plan for most enterprises are typically excluded unless there is something particularly new or different that users must factor into their planning or there are major investment decisions that need to be made.  A strategic technology might be an emerging technology that offers advantage to early adopters or an existing technology that has matured to the point where it has broader impact on the enterprise.   

We generally use this list – along with our Top 10 Disruptive Technologies list published each spring – as a starting point for conversations with clients.  We encourage our clients to use the list as a starting point and adjust based on their industry, unique business needs, technology adoption model and other factors.  Many find the list and related methodologies a useful tool to assist their annual strategic planning exercise.


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Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009

by David Cearley  |  October 14, 2008  |  29 Comments

Every year at fall Symposium we release our top 10 strategic technologies list. Along with my colleague Carl Claunch I have the honor of creating this list based on input from the broad Gartner analyst community, analysis of Gartner surveys and other market data and direct input from various Gartner clients. Here is our list for 2009:
1. Virtualization
2. Business Intelligence
3. Cloud Computing
4. Green IT
5. Unified Communications
6. Social Software and Social Networking
7. Web Oriented Architecture
8. Enterprise Mashups
9. Specialized Systems
10. Servers – Beyond Blades

Here is a little more detail on the topics:

Virtualization. Much of the current buzz is focused on server virtualization, but virtualization in storage and client devices is also moving rapidly. Virtualization to eliminate duplicate copies of data on the real storage devices while maintaining the illusion to the accessing systems that the files are as originally stored (data deduplication) can significantly decrease the cost of storage devices and media to hold information. Hosted virtual images deliver a near-identical result to blade-based PCs. But, instead of the motherboard function being located in the data center as hardware, it is located there as a virtual machine bubble.  Various virtualization approaches have significant potential to reduce IT costs

Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence (BI), the top technology priority in Gartner’s 2008 CIO survey, can have a direct positive impact on a company’s business performance, dramatically improving its ability to accomplish its mission by making smarter decisions at every level of the business from corporate strategy to operational processes. BI is particularly strategic because it is directed toward business managers and knowledge workers who make up the pool of thinkers and decision makers that are tasked with running, growing and transforming the business. Tools that let these users make faster, better and more-informed decisions are particularly valuable in a difficult business environment.

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. They key characteristics of cloud computing are 1) delivery of capabilities “as a service,” 2) delivery of services in a highly scalable and elastic fashion, 3) using Internet technologies and techniques to develop and deliver the services, and 4) designing for delivery to external customers. Although cost is a potential benefit for small companies, the biggest benefits are the built-in elasticity and scalability, which not only reduce barriers to entry, but also enable these companies to grow quickly. As certain IT functions are industrializing and becoming less customized, there are more possibilities for larger organizations to benefit from cloud computing.  However, caution is advised since significant privacy and security issues exist.  Cloud computing is not appropriate for the full spectrum of enterprise applications.

Green IT. Shifting to more efficient products and approaches can allow for more equipment to fit within an energy footprint, or to fit into a previously filled center. Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers, as the effect of power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny. Organizations should consider regulations and have alternative plans for data center and capacity growth.  In the near term the environmental benefits will likely take a back seat to the cost savings from lower energy use.

Unified Communications. During the next five years, the number of different communications vendors with which a typical organization works with will be reduced by at least 50 percent. This change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communications applications to common off-the-shelf server and operating systems. As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry. Organizations must build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administrative team convergence.  Unified communications can be used to streamline existing business processes improving operational efficiencies in the near term and supporting more aggressive transformational efforts longer term.

Social Software and Social Networking. Social software includes a broad range of technologies, such as social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation.  Enterprises should establish a strategy to monitor and engage in external social networking as it relates to their business because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage and thereby, being left mute in a dialogue where your voice must be heard.  Enterprises should consider adding a social dimension to conventional Web sites to enhance the customer experience – an important consideration in a highly competitive slow/no growth economy.  Enterprises should also examine use of social software to extend internal collaboration applications to support specific and targeted communication and coordination needs.

Web-Oriented Architectures. The Internet is arguably the best example of an agile, interoperable and scalable service-oriented environment in existence. This level of flexibility is achieved because of key design principles inherent in the Internet/Web approach, as well as the emergence of Web-centric technologies and standards that promote these principles. The use of Web-centric models to build global-class solutions cannot address the full breadth of enterprise computing needs. However, Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach will enable its use in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.

Enterprise Mashups. Enterprises are now investigating taking mashups from cool Web hobby to enterprise-class systems to augment their models for delivering and managing applications. Through 2010, the enterprise mashup product environment will experience significant flux and consolidation, and application architects and IT leaders should investigate this growing space for the significant and transformational potential it may offer their enterprises.  In the near term mashups should be used to create visualization dashboards and opportunistic end user applications that fill gaps in the current application portfolio and provide support for existing business process needs.

Specialized Systems. Appliances have been used to accomplish IT purposes, but only with a few classes of function have appliances prevailed. Heterogeneous systems are an emerging trend in high-performance computing to address the requirements of the most demanding workloads, and this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market. Heterogeneous systems are also specialized systems with the same single-purpose imitations of appliances, but the heterogeneous system is a server system into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function.

Servers — Beyond Blades. Servers are evolving beyond the blade server stage that exists today. This evolution will simplify the provisioning of capacity to meet growing needs. The organization tracks the various resource types, for example, memory, separately and replenishes only the type that is in short supply. This eliminates the need to pay for all three resource types to upgrade capacity. It also simplifies the inventory of systems, eliminating the need to track and purchase various sizes and configurations. The result will be higher utilization because of lessened “waste” of resources that are in the wrong configuration or that come along with the needed processors and memory in a fixed bundle.  This trend should be factored into longer range strategic planning during 2009 but most organizations will not be purchasing such systems in 2009.

What do you think? What did we leave out that you feel is important? Are there items on the list that you would not have included?


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Dave’s Blog

by David Cearley  |  October 14, 2008  |  7 Comments

It's me, Dave.

Welcome to my blog. I’ve been on the sidelines of blogging for a long time. It’s taken me a while to get this blog off the groun given my hectic personal and professional life. Adding yet another item to the list was a daunting idea.  But becoming part of the conversation in cyberspace has a seductive appeal to someone like me. Now I’m in the game and I’m excited.

So what can you expect from this blog? I cover emerging technologies for Gartner so you can expect to see me post about the cool new things I encounter – particularly in the areas of user interface and interaction technologies.  I also lead Gartner’s research agenda on cloud computing along with David Mitchell Smith so you will hear a lot from me about this disruptive phenomena. Finally you can expect to see me opine about the Web in general from both personal and professional perspectives.

One more thing: I grew up in Kansas City and I’m a huge barbeque fan so I’ll try and sneak in some fun stuff once in a while. All work and no play …

So off I go. I hope that you find my posts interesting, sometimes challenging and always entertaining. Give me feedback on what you think about my posts and point me to other interesting information on the web. That’s what blogging is all about.


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