Open Source, VOIP, Grid

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-03-28 Print this article Print

Long awaited, good to go

Several board members stressed the newly ready-for-prime-time status of technologies that have enjoyed much buzz but relatively little momentum for the last several years.
FN Manufacturings Benincasa, for example, has begun deployment of the open-source OpenOffice productivity suite and is looking forward to improvements in Version 2 that may justify even wider deployment.

In fact, Benincasa is looking to extend his companys use of open source as far as he can. "On the desktop, were looking at Linux terminal servers to run all of the shop machines and some of the entry office machines to cut costs of managing workstations," he said.

Read more here about OpenOffice 2.0. Benincasa emphasized ease of management, rather than lower initial cost, as the main driver for open-source and thin-client technologies at his site. "It just takes too much time to go out there and clean up those machines," Benincasa said, reporting continued costs with administering security issues on thick clients in general and the Windows platform in particular. "What we want to be able to do is have something more stable. And, in the terminal-service-type environment with Linux, if theres a problem with a machine, you simply ... reset the machines, and theyre all cleaned up. Were looking for efficiencies in the tools," Benincasa said. In a similar vein, long-awaited VOIP (voice over IP) offerings are gaining momentum with board member Jorge Abellas-Martin, vice president and CIO at advertising company Arnold Worldwide, in Boston. "VOIP is pretty mature," Abellas-Martin said, and especially attractive for advanced integration and enrichment opportunities that go beyond standard telephone service. "It would be foolhardy," Abellas-Martin added, not to include VOIP as an important component of any new telecommunications system.

At the leading edge of enterprise IT architecture are utility computing approaches, enabled in part by grid architectures. AT&Ts Evans wasnt yet able to detail the grid technology discussions hed had with vendors in the week before the roundtable meeting but said that grid tools are high on his to-do list.

Symbolic of the shifting focus toward the benefits rather than the burdens of IT were the observations of Kevin Wilson, product line manager of desktop hardware at Duke Energy Corp., in Charlotte, N.C. Wilson has been pleased to find that spyware problems wont demand as much attention from his thinly spread staff as he had previously expected.

"It looks like the anti-virus people are going to eat up on that pretty quick," Wilson said, "so it looks like the big technology thing this year is what were not going to be doing, which is not putting out specific spyware solutions."

A year ago, Wilson said, he would have glumly predicted that anti-spyware efforts would be eating up substantial resources; now, he confidently expects that the same energy and money can go instead into terminal servers, in-the-field automation and more aggressive exploration of wide-area connectivity options.

These initiatives, Wilson said, "are not headliners in themselves but are going to bring a lot of benefit"—which seemed to be the dominant theme of the discussion. The enterprise IT year to come may finally be marked more by new benefits brought forth than by emerging hazards and adversities contained.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on IT management from CIO Insight.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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