upfront: The Big Freeze

It's the second full day of spring. Time for the big thaw to begin, everywhere except the IT marketplace. In fact, as the weather gets warmer this year, IT budgets are expected to cool off, until they reach the freezing point during the second half of the year.

Are companies are turning a cold shoulder to their IT needs? Quite the contrary. This year's big freeze is actually in anticipation of IT's greatest challenge to date -- Y2K compliance.

IBM chairman and CEO Lou Gerstner best summed up the collective IT community's mindset heading into the second half of 1999 at last month's BPEC when he said, "no one knows what will happen when the ball drops on New Year's Eve." But Gerstner is not convinced the world will see the kind of "digital winter" many pundits are predicting.

There will be glitches early next year, particularly within companies that have taken a tape-and-putty approach to fixing their computers for the new millenium. Small businesses will also make their presence felt like never before, particularly those that do not make the Year 2000 deadline and in turn affect larger trading partners.

That said, I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Gerstner and look forward to what will be waiting for IT on the other side of 2000. E-business will continue to permeate every inch of industry, simply because people want it to and the technology is being developed to do this. Thin client devices will continue to make a strong comeback, eventually overrunning and outnumbering PCs.

What's more, Domino on the AS/400 will continue to provide new opportunities, both for the end user and IBM business partner. If you want evidence that Domino's future on the AS/400 is a bright one, look no further than the Lotus NotesBench ranking the AS/400 earned late last year in a study conducted by IDEAS International (an Australia-based technology research and analysis firm). In terms of performance, the AS/400e 9406-S40 ranked second only to an RS/6000 S70 SMP.

Of course competition in the server market is tight, but with enhancements such as logical partitioning, Universal DataBase and the Integrated Netfinity Server, the AS/400 should help bring the IT market through this year's second winter.

Please e-mail me with your thoughts or comments: greenemeierlg@midrangesystems.com.