Now, it used to be when we had these conversations that wed talk about technology thresholds being crossed, but most of what Im hearing today has to do with security and operational and security issues rather than core technology performance improvements. Is that by necessity, or do you feel that technologies are about as good as they need to be? Calabrese: I think its just that were so used to that amount of technology change that goes on year upon year. I can sit here and talk to you about some of our wireless initiatives, some of our mobile work force initiatives, but the focus really is on managing the costs, managing the efficiencies. Im spending an awful lot of time these days working on service-level agreements and making the services predictable. One of the things we have talked about with you in the past, Frank, is having a work force distributed across international boundaries and working with technical and design teams and so on. Are you satisfied with your ability to handle security in those environments?Now were saying, "OK, a portion of our lab has to deal with globalization, so were going to charge a portion of the lab, were going to charge a portion of our help desk." Were creating a model where we can again unitize costs. We can use SMS to do the management, the inventory tracking, and then turn around and say, for every European desktop computer, its going to be "n" number of dollars per month payable to our corporate information systems group for licensing, support, internationalization, hardeningall of the core pieces of technology we offer to that population. Bob, are things any different with IT budgets in your government sector? Rosen: Our budget is essentially flat. Our emphasis is still on storagestorage is just a beast that devours all. We keep generating data so fast, and were trying to find places to put it. If we do make any investments, [storage] is primarily where theyre going to beimproving our storage and storage management. Id really like to move along to what everybody is calling "information lifecycle management." But every time you talk to people and say, "How long do you need this data?" they say, "Forever." So it is a challenge. I know that you have a somewhat diverse and independent user community, Bob. You have some people who are very definite about "this is what I need to do to do my job, and I need you to make it work." What are the costs of heterogeneity doing to you? Is it getting easier than it used to be? Apple Computer Inc., for example, has tried very hard to promote the idea that coexistence of OS X and Windows machines is a much smoother proposition than it used to be. Are you seeing any operational benefits from that effort on Apples part? Rosen: I think were seeing some, in terms of OS X, but the full benefit remains to be seen. Were still suffering from the multiple varieties of Unix that exist. And so, in some sense, its yet another variety of Unix. Next page: Consulting war stories.
Calabrese: Were floating a proposal to charge out our services on a unitized basis for our machines outside of the United States, where before we would do it under the guise of a project. We would send a team to Europe to do some standardization, some work, and then charge that effort directly to the cost centers that were affected by it.