The sense of head-spinning change that you get as an IS manager is an offshoot of a fairly simple phenomenon: the restoration of competition in the computer industry. Two centers of vitality are vying for leadership in advancing the state of the art.
One is the Microsoft/Intel camp and its large following of third-party developers. During the past 10 years, this group has toppled many cherished precepts and emerged as the dominant source of innovation.
The other is the Unix community (more precisely, the Unix/Java community), led by Sun, Oracle and Netscape. This camp is closer to the Internet. In the past year, it generated its own army of third-party followers, partly because of a generous infusion of venture capital. The Unix/Java camp now is challenging the PC leaders with its own rapid innovation.
My confidence of renewed competition isn’t because the Unix/Java camp has united behind Unix or because it threatens to displace Microsoft at the desktop. Neither statement is true. But it is true that Unix advocates have assimilated the lessons of the PC revolution and are putting them to use.