Page Three

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-07-11 Print this article Print

Bob Rosen, how are things looking from the government standpoint?

Rosen: When I got the note about what we were going to be discussing today, I came up with several things that I think are going to be significant, in no particular order:

I think mobile is going to become more important—and maybe for reasons that people havent given a lot of thought to: Basically, commuting is getting so bad and is such a waste of resources—time, gasoline and everything else—that theres going to be more and more of a push to telecommuting. And so mobile is going to become more and more important to make that an extension of your office.

Also, I see that IT will become an enhancer and not something where youre looking for cost reductions. Were going to be working more and more with the business side of the house, in a partnership with them as opposed to just keeping our heads buried in the technology.

Do you think weve begun our climb out of the valley of downsizing and cost reduction already?

Rosen: No, thats never going to go away, but if we dont climb up that other side, were going to be driven out of business completely.

And that leads to my next point—whats going to happen with grid and utility computing. I think theyre going to be coming more and more on the horizon and will be much more mainstream as security issues are addressed.

Do you think at the moment that technology and security-side issues are the bigger barrier to the mainstream adoption of grid computing, or do you think its still the business and pricing and costing models being so much in flux thats keeping it on the edge of peoples attention?

Rosen: I think people are concerned about the security and the technology and not so much the pricing.

What were seeing in some places around here is that people are building grids internally. And so thats how theyre controlling their security and technology issues—using the grid so its internal utility computing.

Are they doing that as a technology-evaluation exercise or because its actually giving them some capacity management benefits?

Rosen: A little of both, probably. Its still not mainstream, but were seeing some of the advanced people starting to do that kind of stuff.

One thing I havent heard anybody mention is were going to have to spend more time managing and dealing with our human capital. You cant outsource forever, and you really need to maintain the innovative capabilities—youve got to keep your workers happy and so on. You cant keep treating people like replaceable pawns.

Finally, and this is probably more than five years out, if we ever get to really true plug and play—not just with hardware but with software—it will eliminate a lot of the necessity we have for a lot of the technical stuff we do. Just put the things in that we need, and they work. That will help us get out of the technology pit we constantly dig ourselves into.

Youre talking about application integration reaching the level of transparency and automatic discovery that we have to a large extent now with hardware?

Rosen: Correct.

Is Web services a step in that direction?

Rosen: It is a step in that direction, but its a baby step.

What are the major unanswered questions or unmet challenges with Web services that you see now?

Rosen: You have problems with data formats. The biggest problem, of course, is that everyone wants everything customized their own way. A good analogy is to look back at the auto industry. The option list on cars used to be a mile long, and it ended up being reflected in the price. Now, you get this package and this package, and each package includes certain options. This model is cheaper because it improves the manufacturing efficiencies and so on. Youre going to see, I think, a similar kind of thing happening in our industry.

Next page: The health care front.

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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