Roundtable continued

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-06-24 Print this article Print

Coffee: Nelson talked about the very high level of concern for making sure that information exchange is contained, that only the right people can see it. If theres one area where theres an opportunity for new technology to come in right now, it would be the whole area of security, privacy, confidentiality and so on. Is this an area that any of you can discuss in terms of what kind of buzz youre getting, either from your front office or just your own internal concerns?

Rosen: Security is obviously one of the big issues in the government, and theyre looking at virtually every technology thats out there and hoping someone will invent some more. I think a combination of biometrics and single sign-on is where everybody is at least trying to move, but theyre not there yet.

Ramos: I would agree. Theres an increased acceptance of what I would call infrastructure enhancements and new infrastructure technology. Typically, those are hard sells because the benefits werent directly obvious once you did an implementation. Were doing more with respect to security server monitoring.

Coffee: Are you looking at acquiring technologies or acquiring upgrades to your existing products that have been reinforced in security, or are you looking at bringing in security services?

Ramos: More technology related to [storage area networks], standby servers, security and intrusion monitoring. Again, people are realizing the effect of an interruption upon daily business services.

Coffee: Gary Bronson, I know that you operate a network that deals with operations literally all over the world, passing around some pretty sensitive data in terms of bid proposals and other commercial information. What is your security posture at this time?

Bronson: I will just say that its always under evaluation.

Coffee: Im probably not going to get many more specifics from this conversation. Not on that subject.

I wonder if we can get a quick rundown here on where people are with the various wireless strategies.

Gunnerson: We have not seen a good business case for rolling out wireless to the company in general. We have architected what we consider to be good security around wireless and are sharing that with the rest of the company, should anyone decide to implement it. At this point, it doesnt seem to be really important enough, and Im talking about wireless LANs. As far as wireless and messaging, were still piloting a few different things. The high cost of those wireless services keeps us from recommending them wholeheartedly.

Shaw: We are using wireless, as many retailers are, for inventory applications in the stores, with wireless terminals using 802.11b to connect wireless terminals back into the network for inventory count collections and similar-type information.

Coffee: You regard 802.11b as a pretty solidly established technology at this point?

Shaw: At this point in our environment, it is.

Brown: Wireless is growing considerably on campuses.

Coffee: 802.11b?

Brown: 802.11b, wondering about looking at 802.11a. I havent heard of anything really with Bluetooth yet.

Rabuck: Weve been using 802.11b with our desk center people. They find it interesting. Theyre starting to use it at home. Our CEO now has requested it on the executive floor here and wants to start piloting it. Also, Im beginning to see the value in it in roaming because its coming up in a lot of different hot spots.

Coffee: So were talking about people wanting 802.11 so they can just carry their laptops with them and bring them to a conference room or bring them to any impromptu meeting location?

Ramos: Were starting to see that. Weve adopted it in the nursing areas, allowing nurses to do their documentation closer to the patient.

Bronson: Weve been talking about benefits at some of our project sites, but were still pretty much pulling cable around at this point.

Coffee: Do you think that might change in the next year?

Bronson: Were going to run some numbers in the next quarter here. Its strictly a cost decision vs. flexibility or use or ease of installation.

Donston: For any of the people who have implemented wireless, especially Nelson in the health care area, have you applied additional security above and beyond whats built in?

Brown: We use an SSID [Service Set Identifier]. Its not discoverable, unless you have the SSID, and its changed on a monthly basis. But were not working with what I would call high-level secure content.

Rosen: Thats one of our concerns with wireless—the whole security issue.

Donston: Is there a decree thats gone out thats said, "There shall not be any wireless"?

Rosen: What were trying to do is come up with a workable policy. There are a bunch of different issues aside from security. Theres stuff in the hospital; you have to make sure you dont interfere with the hospital equipment. Right now, its all up in the air. People want wireless, but we dont have a good way of doing it yet. Were working on that.

Coffee: Is IP starting to pick up any of the services that used to be on other networks? Is storage on IP on the radar?

Rosen: Its not there yet, in our opinion.

Coffee: So, as were moving to these terabyte databases and the need for high-availability data, IP is just not ready for that role?

Rosen: Right. Thats not to say that it wont be eventually, but I dont think its there yet.

Coffee: I dont hear any disagreement on that. What about voice over IP? Is that finally ready?

Shaw: We are prototyping that in our environment here now. We are seriously considering it for our business facilities environment.

Coffee: The motivation for that is cost?

Shaw: Yes.

Bronson: We actually have a site in the Philippines that runs voice over IP. ... But if theres a problem, and there has been, then they fall back to standard voice communication.

Rabuck: Were looking at it, actually, over 802.11. I saw some amazing demonstrations last week. Maybe they just went very well at that time—it wasnt a peak period. It was through server wireless links and back to other services. It worked amazingly well.

Brown: We have been looking at it and experimenting in conjunction with some collaborative tools as well.

Coffee: When you knew we were going to be talking about emerging technologies today, what did you expect us to discuss that I havent brought up yet? Anything?

Brown: Im getting into working with alternative devices and am anxious to see whats going to happen on the tablet side.

Coffee: Do you expect to see commercial Tablet PC-type devices available before the end of the year?

Brown: This is what were told.

Coffee: Do you think they are going to be attractive?

Brown: The jurys still out. Without having had one in my hands, its pretty hard to see. It would, certainly in our arena, have a place if the price point is right.


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