jueves, noviembre 08, 2007

La red en el futuro

Que la creciente importancia de la web está cambiando ampliamente la construcción y utilización del software, es indudable. Cambian arquitecturas, posibilidades, instrumentos, recursos, y participantes. El grupo de tecnología de Wharton comenta uno de los aspectos que prefiguran claramente cambios en la ubicuidad y movilidad del uso del software: la integración de las aplicaciones de escritorio y la web. En su artículo sin firma, Wharton balancea a los principales contendientes y los distintos puntos de vista para lograr este objetivo, y también juega una opinión.
On October 1, Adobe Systems announced an agreement to buy Virtual Ubiquity, a company that has created a web-based word processor built on Adobe's next generation software development platform. One day earlier, Microsoft outlined its plans for Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a service that will combine Microsoft Office and web capabilitiesso that documents can be shared online. Recently,Google introduced a technology called "Gears" that allows developers to create web applications that can also work offline. The common thread between the recent moves of these technology titans: Each company is placing a bet on a new vision of software's future, one which combines the features of web-based applications with desktop software to create a hybrid model that may offer the best of both worlds.
Wharton ve dos estilos, uno que viene de una historia basada en el escritorio, y otra que nació en la Web, de tal forma que el acento está puesto en la red o en la estación local (desktop/Webtop). Su idea es que ninguno de los dos es suficiente:
But as this drive toward hybrid desktop/webtop software illustrates, there are limits to both approaches, and the future for software may be a blend of the best features of both.
(...) The most likely outcome is a hybrid future where desktop and web-based software and services become intertwined to the point where users won't know the difference between the two, suggest experts at Wharton and elsewhere. "We believe that the future of technology at work will be a combination of local software on PCs, along with services," said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's Business Division, in a question and answer session at the announcement of Office Live Workspace on September 30. "Think of it as a continuum, ranging from pure software to pure services approaches. Most customers will be somewhere in the middle."
Los profesores Eric Clemons y Kartik Hosanagar, apunta a los aspectos más diferenciadores de esta tendencia:
(...) this model is likely to develop in two phases. "In the first phase, applications will provide essentially the same features as a desktop application, only you will now be able to access them from anywhere. Current web-based apps are good examples of this." For example, Yahoo Mail looks a lot like Microsoft's Outlook email program. Google Docs and Adobe's Buzzword mimic Microsoft Word and add perks like the ability to access your documents from any computer.
In this phase, occurring today, Hosanagar says desktop applications will offer more features than web-based software, but over time that advantage will erode.
In the second phase of this hybrid model, web applications and desktop software will co-mingle, says Hosanagar. "What's likely to be more exciting is the next phase, where these web-based applications can interact and share data with each other and become platforms [that developers can use to build more software]. Facebook has already become one such platform, as has Salesforce.com on the enterprise side. In the next phase, far more interesting things will happen as these web apps start talking to each other."
Clemons notes that another critical factor for the evolution of software will be mobile applications. "My bet is that desktop software will be used for home operations, and webtop software will be used for mobile applications," says Clemons. The key will be synchronizing desktop and web software wherever a person goes. "None of us has a good idea what these mobile applications will be, but they may provide real value."
Krishnan Anand agrega otro elemento, "pay-per-use":
Anand says another model that's likely to emerge is one that is based on usage. In this model, a person who used a program infrequently could employ the web-based version for free or a small fee. Heavy users would pay more based on usage. In this model, which would apply to both web-based and desktop software, Anand likens software providers to electric utilities. "The notion is you can charge different prices based on levels of usage," he says.
Sin embargo, la confiabilidad sigue siendo débil:
"Reliability is critical for many of us. Even now, networks crash and I can't access files. I still have to make sure I have a copy on desktop. Until that changes, I don't see an advantage to web-based applications."

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