Government Priorities

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print

Government Priorities

In government, too, the prevailing winds of cost containment are blowing hard.

"All those big budgets have disappeared. You dont know how much money homeland security is going to suck up," said Robert Rosen, CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases, in Bethesda, Md., and an eWeek Corporate Partner. "Unless Congress gives you more money, what youve got is what youve got," he said.

With a war in progress and the economy sputtering, a windfall of tax dollars is not likely for his department, said Rosen. In addition, the money that does come in will be used in large part to trim expenses. "In 2003, were looking at server consolidation, SANs and disaster recovery. Its cost-containment-oriented," he said.

Rosens server consolidation would mean running larger and fewer Intel servers. Those servers now run a mix of Windows NT and Windows 2000, and Rosen is looking at Unix and Linux alternatives. "We could realize savings by going to Linux. Were running Linux in the research labs," he said.

Rosens institute, which serves 500 users, is scattered over a number of sites. Hes investigating the implementation of SANs in different locations that could be pooled to offer virtualized storage, but the sticking point so far is cost. "The software is there, but its all very expensive," said Rosen. "Thats a key point. Were really looking at ROI analysis."

Rosens new disaster recovery plan is also oriented toward his institutes many locations. "We need to make sure we have the right things at the right places," he said. "Do I have copies in the same place, or in two places?"

Rosen is also looking at increased use of wireless technologies to satisfy growing demand among end users. Hes willing to give wireless a look because it does not involve large new infrastructure investments but would enhance the experience of IT users. Before that happens, though, Rosen said questions need to be answered about the security of medical data over wireless networks and the possibility that the radio emissions of wireless equipment would interfere with the functioning of his institutes medical equipment.

Straight to the Point

In financial services, straight-through processing is attractive because it saves time and money. The idea is to automate the customer order; the trade itself; the confirmation to the customer and; ultimately, settlement and custody.

"There are a number of steps that one has to go through. Its about automating middleman processes and linking processes more closely together," said Meta Groups Amoroso.

Companies are spending money to save money with straight-through processing. But while many large institutions will have to retrofit legacy systems, one Internet-based company built straight-through processing into its architecture from the start.

"We were doing it from the very beginning," said Jerrold Grochow, CTO at Foliofn Inc., a Web-based online portfolio trading company in Tysons Corner, Va. "Those that didnt are at a severe cost disadvantage. In fact, we are in an extremely cost advantageous position because we were able to build this from the ground up rather than having to retrofit it into older systems."

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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