2007 network industry graveyard

Network technologies, companies and ideas that have died so far this year.

The 2007 IT graveyard

IT and network industry watchers are ghoulishly fascinated with death. The SCO Group death watch, for example, started well before the embattled company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September . Also, we've run stories this year with headlines such as " Is Fibre Channel Dead ?"  and " Are standalone IPSs dead? "  and " Is free nationwide wireless broadband dead? "

While none of those things is technically dead, other technologies, companies and concepts have met their demise. View our slideshow to pay your respects.

municipal wifi headstone

"Muni Wi-Fi" covers a lot of different types of nets. But the common understanding of a Wi-Fi "blanket" that would give residents low-cost, wireless Internet access (and spark economic development booms, bridge the "digital divide," and create world peace), instead of using DSL and cable links, seems to be terminal.

Anchorage, Alaska, Corona, Calif., and Chicago all cancelled muni Wi-Fi plans. San Francisco's plan floundered and finally failed under political controversy and EarthLink's decision that the political and contract headaches just weren't worth it.

EarthLink itself created a shockwave in the market early in 2007 when, reporting a $16.3 million 2Q loss, it put on hold all future muni Wi-Fi contracts while it reassessed the business. Finished nets in Lompoc, Calif., Milwaukee and Taipei, Taiwan were reported to have won far fewer subscribers than planned.

But cities may refocus on wireless as, essentially, a tax-funded enterprise net for public safety/first responder applications and for mobile city workers .

BlackBerry and Skype networks tombstones

BlackBerry addicts went into big-time panic mode when RIM's network for their surgically attached devices blacked out the night of April 17 .

RIM explained that the outage was caused by a small bit of new code and a problem in the network's failover process .

Skype's VoIP network died for two days in August, the apparent victim of bunches of customers downloading Microsoft patches and rebooting their computers at about the same time. Skype softened the blow by offering a week's free service for paying customers .

Harry Potter tombstone

A worm called W32/Hairy-A circulated this summer that told victims that " Harry Potter is Dead ." As we hope you know by now if you're reading this, the young wizard survived the final edition of J.K. Rowling's series, though the worm itself fizzled out.

Palm?s Foleo smartphone tombston

In an embarrassing setback for Palm, the handheld pioneer in September announced it had scrapped its Foleo project , a two-and-a-half-pound "smart phone companion."  There was actually no shortage of people lining up to take credit for killing off the device , including Network World's own Keith Shaw.

DRM tombstone

No, not all music enveloped with digital rights management is dead, but the march to the graveyard has begun. Apple began selling DRM-free music in May as part of its iTunes Plus service . Amazon.com has taken a similar approach.

SunRocket tombstone

SunRocket, a VoIP service provider that went out of business in July without telling its customers ahead of time, wound up designating two other carriers to pick up those customers . The company did briefly come back to life in August to sue Vonage, which SunRocket said used its subscriber list without paying for it .

Bill Gates for president tombstone

The Microsoft guru's bandwagon, which launched last November with such promise and fanfare - thanks primarily to Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams - called it quits in March. The group acknowledged: "we failed miserably to draw enough attention our way."

Well, it got ours.

Caymas tombstone

Caymas Systems couldn't cut it in what is supposedly a hot segment of the network security market. The company e-mailed customers in June telling them that the outfit formed to liquidate Caymas assets decided to discontinue its products . Speculation on the demise of Caymas were swirling in March, and as of then, the company had insisted it wasn't going anywhere.

pdf spam tombstone

PDF spam, until recently thought to be dead to the world, has returned. In late October the spamming technique that features an attached PDF file designed to allude antispam filters returned to inboxes, and is significantly more malicious than the versions sent out this summer . This round contains malware embedded in the PDF file that exploits a security weakness in Adobe's Acrobat Reader to create a botnet. While August's PDF spam was remarkable for its sheer volume (reaching 30% of all spam sent at its height), the messages caused no harm unless the recipient actually purchased the penny stocks being touted in the PDF, which likely resulted in losing money. August's PDF spam blasts disappeared as quickly as they came; since Adobe recently released a security update for Reader and Acrobat , hopefully this round will, too.

Microsoft Java Virtual Machine tombstone

Microsoft says in this memo on its site that the JVM will formally reach the end of its life on Dec. 31, 2007. While sometimes sudden death is preferred to a drawn-out affair, in this case, customers benefited by getting a warning from Microsoft as far back as 2003 that they'd need to make a transition.

data-mining project tombstone

The Department of Homeland Security fessed up in September to scrapping its $42 million data mining project before it ever went operational. The ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement) program was found to be time consuming and a big-time privacy invader .

Microsoft\'s OOXML tombstone

Microsoft failed in its attempt to have its Office Open XML document format fast-tracked straight to the status of an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization . IBM and others piled on Microsoft's defeat to toss their weight behind OpenOffice.org . Microsoft, however, vows to dig up the body of OOXML, dress it up and resubmit it next year.

Desktop anti-virus and Linksys tombstone

OK, neither of these is officially dead, but they have had close calls.

Vendors of desktop anti-virus products aren't buying the idea that their products are dead. But some industry analysts are proclaiming the traditional antivirus method for detecting and eradicating viruses, trojans, spyware and other baneful code by matching it against a signature to be "dead." "It's the beginning of the end for antivirus," says Robin Bloor, partner at consulting firm Hurwitz & Associates. "I'm going to keep beating this drum. The approach antivirus vendors take is completely wrong. The criminals working to release these viruses against computer users are testing against antivirus software. They know what works and how to create variants."

As for Linksys, Cisco CEO John Chambers played the grim reaper in July when he said in a roundtable discussion with the European press that the Linksys brand was not long for this world. However, Linksys rushed to clarify that Chambers' reference to the brand disappearing "over time" means a long time .

What do you think?

Did we overlook any obvious candidates that also deserve a proper burial here?

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.