Roundtable, pg

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print

. 1"> Members of eWeeks Corporate Partner Advisory Board recently convened to discuss their organizations IT priorities for the coming year. Moderated by Technology Editor Peter Coffee, the roundtable focused on the increasingly difficult challenge of creating competitive advantage with limited budgets. Linux is intriguing, the Corporate Partners say, but other enterprise applications might preclude its use. VPNs and server consolidation are ongoing concerns, while the Tablet PC and .Net Server platforms arent seen as compelling—at least for now.

eWeek: Frank, lets start with you. At Bose, whats on your radar for 2003?

Calabrese: Our primary focus is the globalization of initiatives that we worked on this past year.

eWeek: And those would include?

Calabrese: Were seeing a lot of work-from-home, remote-type applications, and were supporting a virtual private network installation method that works within the security infrastructure weve set up.

How do we protect data, how do we protect confidentiality? How do we protect all the laptops we have out in the field, and how do we do that, again, with this global focus?

eWeek: So youre trying to elevate the level of both telecommuting and an internationally distributed work force with broadband. Were talking broad order of megabit-per-second bandwidth to everybody?

Calabrese: Absolutely.

eWeek: And using VPN technologies to make that as reliable and secure as it would be behind a firewall?

Calabrese: Absolutely.

eWeek: Are you finding those technologies ready to go, or are you having any difficulties with interoperability—across different vendors, for example?

Calabrese: Were having problems with vendors, naturally. The telecommunications industry has thrown us for a loop, so that always makes things fun.

What we are really working on is how [to] deploy our VPN solution. The last challenge was to China. Weve created a master installer that not only drops the VPN client down but also drops anti-virus software onto the target chain and a managed version of Internet Security Systems Inc.s firewall onto the remote machine.

Our machines are deployed with power-user capabilities, not with administrative privileges to those machines by the end user, so our installer has to know what the administrative password is, grant itself privileges and install itself. And it cant be modified during that installation.

What happens if the installation doesnt work? What happens to the supported machine now that weve taken control of the administrative capability and the user is normally located in Hong Kong and has now traveled to Shanghai and is looking to us for support? These are all issues that we havent seen up until this point.

As I said, its riding on top of the security infrastructure that were rolling out. We havent gotten too fancy. We looked at biometrics, and we didnt see that we could do it at this point. But were doing strong passwording; were mandating resets and some of the stuff we have to manage remotely.

eWeek: Nelson, in the health care domain, youre passing a lot of information around your networks that requires strict confidentiality and data integrity assurances. Are you looking at some of the kinds of things that Frank is talking about?

Ramos: We looked at the technology that we have and asked, Where is it that we can provide the biggest impact and provide the biggest differentiation between us and our competitors? We came up with the area of patient safety and using broadband as the foundation for that.

eWeek: Kathie, I imagine that you, in distance education, are also looking at whether ubiquitous broadband is something you can assume.

Sigler: We have a large, growing distance education program here. Were currently using Web computer training—right now, about 1,000 students. For us, thats very small because Miami-Dade has 165,000 students in all of our six campuses. What were trying to do is to take each of our programs and get not only the general-education requirements done but also then get our full degrees offered. So were working program by program, trying to accomplish that.

Were also very interested in the whole e-book area. Weve been working very closely with RCA. ... Were also talking to Microsoft [Corp.], to see if we can take the best of what the Tablet PC technology is going to provide.

I would say probably 75 percent of all the students at this campus walk around dragging rolling suitcases just because of the size of their books. Were talking to several Microsoft partners with the Tablets and are very interested in that whole thing.

eWeek: Do you feel that the Tablet PC technology youve been seeing during the last few months is really ready to be used and not merely demonstrated?

Sigler: I dont know. Ive had my hands on the systems but [not enough] so that I could really put them through their paces. So, personally, the jury is still out.


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