Grid technology will change everything in the IT world and eventually reduce computing to another utility we plug in and use without worrying about how it works, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). But don't expect it within the next five to seven years.
Business advisory consultancy PwC has released the second volume of its Technology Forecast 2002-2004, evaluating the emerging patterns of Internet computing.
Martyn Mitchell, PwC Asia-Pacific leader for technology, information, communication and entertainment, said the death of the IT industry had been greatly exaggerated and suggested there are glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.
That note of optimism was echoed by Michael Katz, managing director and COO of PwC, who predicts that the period of rapid growth in Internet traffic -- which doubled every 100 days during the spike years of 1994-96 -- will be revisited within the next few years due to the increased use of real-time engineering and videoconferencing.
Katz highlighted operating systems and processors as the two spaces where most IT profit lies. He suggested the processor market will be an interesting one to watch because market leader Intel is developing 64-bit chips while chief competitor AMD is sticking with "good enough" 32-bit devices and targeting an increase in market share through price comparisons.
"Intel is betting on new companies coming up with new ways of using chip sets. The whole model is based on companies replacing computers every two or three years but right now CEOs are asking why they need to upgrade when the machines they have can handle the applications they use at the required speeds," said Katz.
Wireless communication is another area PwC is monitoring closely, particularly the fast adoption rates of 802.11b in local area networks (LANs). Internet pioneer Leonard Kleinrock, professor of computer science at the University of California, predicts IP dial tone will have an impact on telecom carriers and those who have invested heavily in 3G will lose out.
"802.11 is cheaper, faster and more available right now," he said. "I think 3G is going to have a very hard time coming to life. It may end up being one of the technologies that fails."