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The best hardware, software, and cloud services of the year

Peter Wayner | Jan. 10, 2013
InfoWorld's 2013 Technology of the Year Award winners stretch from devices and desktops to data centers and beyond

For instance, CloudBees is essentially a Rube Goldberg machine for handling all of the biggest and smallest chores for Java development. It integrates all of the most important open source tools in one stack. You commit your code so that Jenkins will clean it up and test it. Then you push another button and deploy it to CloudBees' machines. Your code goes in one end of the pipeline and out comes a working enterprise stack. Along the way, bazillions of little software hammers, levers, cogs, and cams manipulate it to be just right.

This kind of extreme integration and bundling is another big theme. The products on our list just do more than products used to do. Windows Azure, for instance, isn't just an IaaS cloud, but includes hooks to other Microsoft products ranging from Visual Studio to Bing and Windows Phone. OpenRemote integrates disparate hardware platforms to create an ecosystem for managing a building. These solutions deliver more options, more features, and more comprehensive applications.

Open source meets big data A number of the software packages listed here are largely open source. There's no doubt that some open source packages aren't easy to use, and some have documentation so bad that reading the code is the only real option, but that's not true for the ones we've chosen. They're well-documented, relatively easy to start up, and ready for serious play.

The openness is a big part of this fun because the open source code invites the kind of interactive experimentation that makes engineers and programmers happy. The tools are not just solutions, but opportunities for imaginative customization. They're like Lego sets or Lincoln Logs but built with bits.

The openness also makes everything a bit more social. Hadoop, Lucene, and Cassandra are the centers of a hive of collective fun and creative recoding. The source code is just the beginning because many are wrapping their own code around the core libraries.

Lucene, for instance, is a great indexing tool, but more and more people are turning to the stacks of code that are wrapped around it. They handle all of the housekeeping like sharding the database across multiple nodes or unpacking the XML. Lucene is just the center of an expanding world. When we celebrate Lucene, we're including everything orbiting around it too.

These open source projects are often at the core of another big theme: big data. The enterprise world is investing heavily in big toys to handle the flood of endless numbers, telemetry, and information. The management of every technology-based company is obsessed with making some sense from the huge collection of log files gathering virtual dust. The increasingly sophisticated tools for combing through big data are the answer.


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