Web 2.0: Are You Ready To Take the Plunge?

The so-called "Web 2.0" catchphrase has permeated the IT vernacular these days, though the definition is clearly up for debate depending on your source. Most agree, however, that the concept evokes the maturity, viability and simplicity of the Web as a development platform. For tons of startups as well as some notable entrenched software companies, Web 2.0 development has fueled newer types of applications that can be created quickly, disseminated as services and run on any platform. Google has clearly blazed the trail here with its own AJAX-based internal development, and also by purchasing some of the up-and-comers in the space, such as JotSpot (which offers an online collaborative spreadsheet among other services) and Upstartle, the maker of the Writely online word processor.

But the market has also seen an explosion of aggressive, growth-oriented companies like Zimbra, 37 degrees and Jigsaw that remain independent, not gobbled up by one of the big guys. One source of mine said he recently attended a Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco and, looking around, he just couldn't help but think Microsoft could have some real trouble on its hands going forward. The point being, he said, that people have some very solid, very affordable options out there on everything from productivity applications to document-management, analytics and collaboration tools.

One such solution is Adobe Flex 2 Internet application framework. Adobe has announced it will donate the Flex virtual machine (which fuels Flash applications) to Mozilla to embed in the Firefox browser. So now, with Firefox as the development platform, users can build Web sites with little effort, time or programming skill -- and essentially for free. Think about how many SMB businesses could take advantage of this. Remember the barrier to entry for building Web sites just as little as five years ago?

With Ray Ozzie as strategist, Microsoft won't sit still and let Web 2.0 dominate the market. The Redmond folks are developing their own set of services around the Live initiative, which will be formidable if executed correctly. However, as more and more IT buyers see the Web and the browser as a source of infinite, non-license-based and typically cheap computing services, Microsoft's message of purchasing from a single source could get old, real fast.

Is your company ready to take the Web 2.0 plunge? Write to me at capril@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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