I had an interesting day today. At school, we had a social event with an industry governing board and several local software companies in the Charleston, South Carolina region. Aside from meeting a lot of new people, I was able to ask some of the industry leaders present about the platform and languages they used.

Perhaps the most interesting was that many Microsoft shops are moving away from fat client apps to web apps, and not simply because it is a buzzworthy thing to do. The primary driver is the proliferation of advanced mobile devices, namely iPhone, Palm Pre, and Blackberry. Two of the companies I talked to were VB.NET or C# shops and used to do traditional fat client software. Due partially to the smartphone craze, they are moving SaaS. They also mentioned the Mac as a rising popularity, but no Linux or netbooks or anything like that. It's funny how venerable HTML has become.. now the medium of choice for displaying cross-platform applicaitons. I doubt anybody ever imagined just how important HTML and JavaScript would become during their infancy.

Surprising and delightful to me was the talk of Open Source in the enterprise. I spoke with two gentlemen from different large defense contractors and they were spot on with there assertions that Open Source software is superior in many ways. Both were large Java EE shops and mentioned how they could check and verify FOSS for security much better than any proprietary software would allow. They mentioned that the US Government is one of the largest purchasers of software but even then working with COTS vendors is difficult and FOSS solves many of these problems by allowing them to commit back changes. The thing that made me the most happy was when one rep said that active participation in an Open Source project was a surefire way to boost a resume to the top of a stack.

Another interesting tidbit was that virtualization is synonymous with VMWare here (everyone specified this by name) even today. I'd go as far as to say that I'd probably have received strange looks if I had mentioned KVM or even a heavyweight like Xen or MS Virtual Server. Aside from Windows, the defense guys talked a lot about Solaris. I didn't get much reaction when mentioning Linux to anybody, sadly. (somewhat comically) the non-profits were largely the 100% Microsoft shops.


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