Just when IT execs were beginning to get the idea of how to pitch their operations as profit rather than cost centers again, along comes the chore of retrofitting systems to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Its a task that, as Dennis Callaghan points out in his story, promises to bring about as much fun—and as little competitive advantage—as making a companys systems Y2K-compliant.
Its enough to add fuel to the minifirestorm thats been swirling around the thesis of Nicholas Carrs notorious article in the May issue of Harvard Business Review. Carr contends that IT parity is to be taken for granted at most companies, so IT is not the place to look for a strategic edge. In this weeks Face to Face interview, Information Builders Gerry Cohen disagrees. In another article, Lisa Vaas finds the best advice is to look on the work not as a chore but as an opportunity to improve processes; then, trumpet compliance in your annual report to boost investor confidence. That was the method behind Paul Sarbanes and Michael Oxleys madness in the first place.
Speaking of chores, how about managing patches? Youve got to do it, so you might as well pick the best tool for your shop. Cameron Sturdevant tested four top patch management products, Ecoras Ecora Patch Manager 2.0, PatchLinks PatchLink Update 4.0, St. Bernard Softwares UpdateExpert 6.0 and Shavlik Technologies HFNetChkPro 4. PatchLink Update 4.0 earned an eWEEK Labs Analysts Choice award. Currently, its the only one of the four packages to support non-Windows systems—Unix, Linux and NetWare—but the other products will gain Linux and Solaris support by years end, Cameron reports.
This week, Peter Galli reports once again that Microsoft is showing flexibility in response to customers. Bill Landefeld, Microsofts vice president of worldwide licensing, told Peter that the company will give small and midsize businesses goodies, such as free training, support and home-rights use for Office, that had previously been reserved for large customers under Software Assurance.
Its reason for Microsoft users not to feel taken for granted, but its not keeping everyone in line. The company lost the contract for the city of Munich, Germany, to SuSE Linux, despite a personal appeal by Steve Ballmer.
Till next eWEEK, send your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.