September 13, 2005

Gartner AD Summit: Opening day

Author: Joe Barr

Gartner Senior Program Director Pascal Winckel, the man responsible for the Gartner Application Development Summit being held this week in Grapevine, Texas, is taking a hands-on approach at the event. He was greeting attendees at the registration desk Sunday afternoon in the Gaylord Texas Convention Center with a handshake and introduction. Monday he made a few brief welcoming remarks to the audience, some 700 strong, before introducing the two speakers who really got the ball rolling.

Hey, buddy, can you spare a SODA?

The buzz at this conference is all about Service Oriented Development Architure (SODA) and Application Development (AD). Dale Vecchio, Gartner Research VP and Distinguished Analyst, and Matt Hotle, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, did a tag-team presentation entitled "The AD Scenario: Agility Through Architecture, Assembly, and Automation."

Prior to the Summit, I had heard the term "agile" in an IT-context only in advertisements. During the presentation I picked up a definition for the buzzword from Vecchio. Vecchio said that being agile means being prepared to do things you didn't know you would have to do.

After listening carefully to Gartner's pitch, I'm convinced that Eric Raymond got a job offer from the wrong firm. It should have come from Gartner, not Microsoft. Both Vecchio and Hotle have a penchant for speaking in parables, much like Raymond.

I've also got a better handle on the Gartner Game. By marginalizing the importance of programmers, and placing a premium on beehive-think process architecture, they aim to become the queen bee. And marginalize they did. "You cannot code your way into the future," Vecchio announced.

Instead, Hotle said, IT managers must learn to assemble solutions from a mix of the reuse of legacy applications, off-the-shelf components, and some new code. If they don't, he stressed, their replacemments will.

Hotle also explained that the reason SODA is going to be mandatory is that according to Gartner's projections, it can save 20 percent of development costs within five years.

Show us the code!

Although open source is most noticable by its absence from the agenda, it did warrant a mention by Veccio towards the end of the talk, when he noted that "open source will have a huge impact on application development." He also said that Gartner Research VP Mark Driver will be talking about open source in a couple of his presentations this week. I'll be attending those.

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The conference continues through Wednesday, with a full slate of presentations in four tracks. Track A is called "Application Life Cycle for Service-Oriented Architecture." Track B is "AD Resource Management." Track C -- which includes Mark Driver's talks -- is called Modernization and Integration. And finally, Track D is "AD Governance and Control."

Many attendees will be staying for the Enterprise Architecture Summit, a two-day follow-on conference.

The unofficial track

Breakfast and lunch is provided for attendees, and as always at events of this kind, the networking that occurs outside of the presentations can be just as informative and valuable as the official track.

At breakfast, for example, I learned that the Eclipse open source development framework is making inroads in the enterprise -- and beginning to replace proprietary offerings like JBuilder. Java, not .NET, seems to be where all the action is in this crowd.

The showroom floor, where a couple of dozen vendors have set up shop in nearly identical booths, is also a good place to hear and overhear some unofficial news. IBM is here, of course, but they are not pushing open source or Linux. It's all about their proprietary solutions here. Microsoft is here as well. When I was offered some goodies at their booth, I asked what they had that ran on Linux. Nothing now, but I was told they'd soon have a .NET app that would also run on Mono.

Hidden away in a corner of the exhibit floor, I found the Collabnet booth. Imagine -- an open source-based commercial vendor, right here in Gartnerville. The times they are a-changin'.

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