Security is Worry Number

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-04-12 Print this article Print

One"> While some enterprise customers look forward to a new Microsoft, one that is a trusted and responsible partner, they remain concerned about security.

"Microsoft is trying to be the biggest and the best, but they are having trouble with the quality part," said Paul Tinnirello, a CIO for an insurance information company. "There are too many security flaws and wacky software errors for a company thats been doing this for more than two decades. Theres no excuse. Eventually, the quality issue may cost them the big game."

Microsoft also faces a number of challenges as it tries to convince enterprise customers that it has grown up and is ready to be a true enterprise player—and considered a partner. Ed Benincasa, a vice president of MIS at FN Manufacturing Inc., in Columbia, S.C., and an eWEEK Corporate Partner, said his company sees Microsoft products as PC- and low-end-server-based rather than as enterprise-class software.

"We do not have any confidence in the reliability of their product to use it for high-end processes such as our [enterprise resource planning] system," Benincasa said. "So, the reliability of their products is an important issue. Servers need to be bulletproof and run continuously. Security improvements and more effective patch management are also big issues for us."

Security is an issue with other operating systems as well, but because Microsoft products are more pervasive throughout the world, they need to be better than other operating systems to reduce the risk of network failures due to viruses and other vulnerabilities, Benincasa said.

A report released last summer by the Computer and Communications Industry Assoc. warned that the ubiquity of Windows and other Microsoft products has made the worlds computing infrastructure far more vulnerable to attacks and viruses than it would be were there more diversity of products. Click here to read more. As much as Ballmer talks about the repositioning of the company as an adult and responsible corporate IT citizen, many questions and unknowns remain. Among them are whether the deal with Sun will have any impact on Microsofts expected appeal of the European Commissions antitrust judgment and on the outcome of that appeal.

Also as part of the settlement with Sun, Microsoft and Sun signed a broad Technology Communications Agreement as well as a Communications Protocol licensing agreement. But these appear to provide only a framework rather than specifics about how they will affect cooperation and interoperability between Suns and Microsofts products, as well as, ultimately, enterprise customers.

Still, Ballmer was upbeat about Microsofts chances of changing customer perspectives and the maturation process.

"A lot of what we have been doing is to try and put legal matters behind us and—as we try to respond on these security issues—is to reposition the company as that kind of trusted, responsible—I wont say mature—supplier to the industry," Ballmer said.

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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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