We give several awards to IDEs this year, including one to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. Microsoft, having been founded by programmers, has always understood that wooing developers is an important way to foster technology adoption. Its MSDN program and extensive developer tool suites demonstrate this commitment. See the accompanying slideshow for our top picks among Java, Python, and PHP tools.
[ Read about the winning hardware, software, and development tools in our slideshow, "InfoWorld's 2011 Technology of the Year Award winners." ]
Big data and cloud computing The explosion of data has given rise to tools of truly massive scale that were essentially unthinkable a few years ago. Hadoop and its constituent parts, for example, happily handle hundreds of gigabytes of data as if this were a mundane computing operation. The implementation of these tools on a huge scale is now cheaply accessible via Amazon EC2 and its related services and through Google App Engine.
At the same time, the need for databases to handle large volumes of nontabular and nontransactional data has spurred the so-called NoSQL movement. It's not clear to what extent this movement has legs, despite being driven by multiple, popular open source projects. The "no SQL" aspect is being undermined by efforts to create SQL front ends for these products. As they move more closely to existing models for IT, they edge toward adoption by mainstream RDBMS vendors, who have shown themselves adept at folding new technologies into core products. We recognized some of these large data projects in our Bossie 2010 awards, which are given out yearly to the best open source projects.