Whenever anyone asks me how InfoWorld is different than other tech publications, my short answer is just five words long: We do enterprise product reviews. It takes experts with hands-on experience to deliver truly valuable enterprise reviews along with evaluations that examine how new offerings fit into the existing fabric of solutions -- as opposed to fawning descriptions of shiny new objects.
Those same InfoWorld reviewers write the bulk of our most important article of the year, The Technology of the Year Awards, which highlights the best products we reviewed in the previous year. With InfoWorld Executive Editor Doug Dineley presiding, our contributing reviewers nominate products they see as groundbreaking, important, or outstanding in their category.
This year Doug winnowed them down to 31 products -- or projects, in many cases, since 14 of the 31 are open source. Or in some instances, services, because nine were actually cloud services offered by Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others. The result is the most compelling assortment of winners we've ever assembled.
Take, for example, Andrew Oliver's big data picks for Technology of the Year: Apache Spark, Cloudera Impala, and Apache Ambari. I'm not sure, but I think it's possible that Andy has been personally responsible for more Hadoop and Spark deployments than anyone else on earth. His exploration of the Hadoop and Spark ecosystems, conducted in concert with his colleague Ian Pointer, amounts to a motherlode of real-world advice for anyone developing big data solutions.
Big data technology, and Spark in particular, leads to another key point: The pace of change in enterprise tech just keeps accelerating, largely because open source projects enable whole communities to download solutions, experiment with implementations, and contribute new code. Spark, which started as a demo project for Mesos at UC Berkeley in 2009, has taken the reins from Hadoop and become the defining big data technology in just the past year. In November, Ian Pointeroutlined Spark's sticking points, and less than two weeks ago examined Spark Version 1.6, which addressed a number of those same deficiencies.
InfoWorld reviewer Jonathan Freeman nominated Mesos, as well as CoreOS, the stripped-down Linux distro specifically designed to accommodate Docker containers (not surprisingly, Docker itself won for the second year in a row). Already, there's movement afoot to strip down operating systems even further, as indicated by Docker's recent acquisition of Unikernel Systems. Yet another new infrastructure battleground has opened this year, and it's only January.
Another winner, Cisco's new ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) solution, is shaking up large-scale networking. In November, Contributing Editor Paul Veneziadug deep into Cisco's ingenious variation on SDN to yield an evaluation any network professional will find fascinating. It's the kind of insight only someone like Paul, who has been designing, building, and maintaining networks for 25 years, can deliver.
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