From the SCO\/IBM\/Linux skirmish to WLANs, outsourcing, Cisco and telecom, we venture forward with predictions for the new year.A few weeks ago\u00a0we reviewed our 2003 predictions (we got about 70% right), and now it's time to venture forward with predictions for the new year.Presence becomes the central focus in\u00a0collaboration\u00a0and the major vendors revise e-mail interfaces to create dashboards that incorporate the usual e-mail stuff plus instant messaging and links to the voice world. Expect standards work and vendor alliances.Wireless LANs (WLAN) advance as questions about security ease.\u00a0Wi-Fi Protected Access, a subset of the 802.11i security standard that is expected to be finalized mid-year, is viewed as an adequate replacement for the flawed\u00a0Wired Equivalent Privacy\u00a0standard, and companies start to invest in earnest. Expect to see the federal government back 802.11i as the preferred WLAN security model.For '04\u00a0Oracle\u00a0has promised to deliver Oracle on Sun servers that are powered by AMD processors running Solaris or Linux. This is yet another sign that the future belongs to highly-scalable, low-cost systems built with commodity components. What is less clear, as IDC points out, is how the shift will affect IBM, HP and Sun. As part of the trend, look for continued growth in blades and more noise about 64-bit architectures, but it is still early for both.The\u00a0SCO\u00a0Linux legal mess comes to a head and results in\u00a0IBM\u00a0paying SCO a lump sum, but users balk at paying SCO license fees and several court cases result. Meanwhile,\u00a0Linux\u00a0on the desktop gains support in some big domestic contracts, making Redmond nervous.While\u00a0VoIP\u00a0suffered a few setbacks last year - Merrill Lynch stepped back a bit and security questions moved to the fore - the installed base of TDM PBXs just got a year older, and they won't be replaced with traditional gear. Look for product refinements and deals with software vendors as the market shifts to a focus on applications.Despite another year of courtship and brinkmanship, no large telecom deals go down in '04. But the clock is ticking;\u00a0AT&T,\u00a0MCI,\u00a0Qwest and others are still in trouble.The recently announced\u00a0Cisco Network Admission Control\u00a0program - which promises to safeguard networks by blocking access for desktops that don't have updated virus software - stumbles as the industry looks instead for an approach built on standards.Offshore\u00a0outsourcing, what some are calling offsourcing, unexpectedly trips as the noise level increases about the downsides, including broad security issues and shoddy workmanship.Utility computing\u00a0is still years away, but concrete announcements are made and the vision for how we get there starts to come into focus.With\u00a0VPNs\u00a0now widely used for remote access, customers look to Internet-based site-to-site VPNs to replace more-expensive frame links.