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Good riddance to a bad decade

Face it, the first decade of the 21st century was a bummer. As it closes, it’s time for the obligatory look at the major IT stories of the aughts. Based on a completely unscientific survey  of VARs and colleagues, here are the biggest stories of the that painful decade.

1: The fizz (and fizzle) of the Y2K bug. Whatever apocalypse was supposed to happen  didn’t.  It still isn’t clear whether that was because Y2K software issues were overblown or that the hype forced businesses to proactively fix problems before the new year. In any case, a lot of software got patched and updated.

2: Microsoft monopoly shows vulnerability.

The millenium kicked off just after a U.S. district court judge ruled that Microsoft was a monopoly that illegally tried to leverage its operating systems power.  While a lot of the ruling’s impact was eventually mitigated, Microsoft still faced antitrust cases in several states and several private suits. It just recently resolved anti-trust issues in the European Union. The company must offer European consumers a choice of browsers from its Windows desktop–although Microsof’ts Internet Explorer franchise was already under assault by Firefox, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome and other options.

As the decade progressed, the company showed further frailties as it tried to enter new markets–Internet search and advertising–while neglecting its franchise desktop OS, allowing a sub-par Vista release that was widely panned. That misstep has taken years to overcome.

3: The rise of Google.

By the time Google launched its record-breaking IPO in 2004, it was a bona fide giant, already unsettling incumbents like Microsoft and IBM. Some (IBM, Oracle etc.)  rushed to embrace Google Search incorporating it into their software offerings. Others (Microsoft and Yahoo) tried to out-google Google.

4: Oracle grows and grows and grows.

Oracle started out the decade big, fielding the world’s market-leading database. But with a series of huge purchases–not all of them friendly–it became the go-to power in enteprise software, causing consternation at SAP, Microsoft and IBM. Starting in 2003, Oracle launched bids for PeopleSoft (and J.D. Edwards), Siebel Systems, BEA Systems, and dozens of smaller companies. It closed out the decade with a stunning $7.4 billion offer for Sun Microsystems–which, when complete, will put Oracle into hardware. European regulators look likely to approve that deal after months of delay and negotiation.

5: HP passes IBM as the biggest IT provider .

Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd made it official on an earnings call in November, 2006, that with revenue hitting nearly $92 billion for its fiscal year, HP became the largest tech company in the universe in the world.

6: The rise of server virtualization

By letting data centers put multiple workloads securely and safely on shared servers, virtualization moved beyond the mainframe and into the mainstream and changed the way companies buy and deploy software.

By consolidating workloads, IT shops can retire tons of old servers and save on energy costs.

7: iPhone rocks and rules.

Apple Steve Jobs announced the first apple iPhone with its innovative touch-screen intereface in January, 2007, completely upending any news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show happening at the same time in Las Vegas. People waited hours in line for their iPhone, despite the fact that they’re only available  on AT&T’s not-well-reviewed service. in the next few years, support for Microsoft Exchange and other corporate standards showed the consumer darling making headway in business.

8: Mobilizing the Internet.

The Blackberry and iPhone together share credit for putting Internet access on the road. Many road warriers started leaving their notebooks at home, using their smartphones for email and other office tasks.

9: Open source goes mainstream.

Linux, Apache, TomCat that used to sneak in the back door, gained credibility as even old-school companies like IBM played the open source card. It didn’t even matter that it was played mostly in a proxy battle with Microsoft.

10: Dotcom boom/bust

The only thing more dramatic than the euphoria that made companies like industry leaders was the subsequent, and longer, bust. On the plus side, the fact that Internet access– that fed the bubble also enabled a generation of new “cloud-based” applications and services to come online.

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