Page Four

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2004-11-08 Print this article Print

And for the very processor-intensive stuff that some of your people are doing, are you seeing any Linux clusters or grids that are coming in and posing new integration challenges?

Rosen: We just put in [an IBM eServer pSeries] P670, on which well run four partitions—AIX and Linux partitions. So thats just starting to come up as we speak.

What was your basis for going forward with that choice?

Rosen: Performance, and the ability to do the dynamic partitioning, so we can move things around depending on where theyre needed, without having to shut the whole machine down.

Rabuck: From a consulting standpoint, I have a couple of war stories.

Please proceed.

Rabuck: Im working with a large health care company that has done a lot of outsourcing during the last couple of years. And now, looking into the 2006/2007 time frame, theyre saying, "We need to start bringing things back in-house," because theyre finding that the work thats getting done is only about 75 percent complete, and then they have to have some amount of work—25 percent—done here.

Im working on some wireless projects. Im finding that the way these things are justified overall is the long-term approach. Its not that IT puts them in the budget, its that somebody says, "Hey, theres a better way to do our field maintenance or our sales maintenance or whatever were doing." So it becomes an incremental budgeting project, where youre going to do it either by regions or areas or lines of business.

And youre seeing success when a business unit comes in and says, "This is a capability wed like to have," and they become the owner and the patron of that project, as opposed to it being an IT-generated initiative?

Rabuck: Absolutely. And the role of IT has diminished in that sense. No longer does IT try and go out and innovate or push something. But I think, at the same time, because companies are under pressure to increase performance, its forcing them to take a look at what technologies can do that. I think that becomes the opportunity for IT.

Dugger: Things are interesting here in California. Local governments are still belt-tightening, but, interestingly, the police departments of some local governments are going forward with new projects. Theyre looking at tying together all of their information, as far as common look-ups for local-type information. Theyre looking at doing more types of information sharing and having it as far down as the cars.

And theyre doing that because of the benefits to the service they can provide, or because they think it will let them reduce redundancies in areas like dispatch?

Dugger: Well, I dont think its going to reduce dispatch so much, but I think its areas such as getting information faster and more directly to the officers on the street. They can pull somebody over and find out that they were pulled over last week in City Z for the same thing.

So, providing a much more global view over the entire region.

Dugger: Right, and thats their push—theyre taking it from a regional standpoint. And a lot of it is being funded by grant money, some from 9/11.

So you mean federal grant money? From the Department of Homeland Security?

Dugger: Yes.

Who takes charge of things like that? Are there existing consortia of public service agencies in the area, or do new clusters of interested people come together to find some way of sitting around the table to talk about these things?

Dugger: More the latter.

So its not being driven by the IT department; its more mission-driven.

Dugger: Yes, but the IT department is obviously involved because they have to make sure the architecture is going to work with everything they have.

As we near the end of our time together, I need to ask: Whats the one area of your budget thats taking resources you wish you didnt have to allocate?

Calabrese: Id have to say security and hardening, in an effort to stay within government compliance.

The actual costs that hit you as a result of security—are they primarily remediation, or the costs of things like patch management and bug track monitoring? Whats the actual expense of security that you incur?

Calabrese: Well, its avoidance. Its pre-emptive stuff. Its the individual desktop firewalls that we just deployed for all our machines. Its that whole gamut of compliance-related issues.

Next page: Additional viewpoints.

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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