Tiptoeing at the Edge of the IT Chasm

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2001-05-07

Stabilize was a word much in the news last week as an array of commentators from stock pundits to hopeful investors looked for signs that the downtrodden markets had finally stabilized. The hope being that, once stabilized, the business of business can once again resume its advance. Odd that stabilization, especially in high technology, is now a hoped-for occurrence. What about all those consultants who built lucrative businesses out of telling vendors to leap chasms, discover new paradigms and strive for the next killer app? Will all that breathlessness be replaced by the excitement of finding the incremental advantage?

Despite its location near that really big Grand Canyon divide, I dont see much chasm leaping in store for this weeks NetWorld+Interop show in Las Vegas. While it takes time to restructure your product line, you can remodel your marketing message as fast as you can cut and paste with your word processor. This year, the paradigm shifts and New Economy enablers of 12 months ago have been replaced by press releases championing return on investment and affordable technologies designed to fit existing IT infrastructures.

This all sounds a bit to me like a casino on the Las Vegas strip using its neon to lure gamblers with "Come on in; you cant win a lot, but then again you cant lose too much, either."

Not a message to quicken a gamblers pulse.

Heres a quick list of some of the products and services Ill be looking for at N+I, starting with wireless LAN security. The WLAN business was just getting some legs when a few folks started having fun tapping into your networks using a wireless connection while sitting in your parking lot. Funny how security always becomes job No. 1 in every IT implementation, but here we are again. In any case, I hope to find some solutions that dont blame the network administrator.

• Higher-speed WLANs. Lets assume we get over the security hump. The next step is WLANs that operate at higher speeds, at greater distances and in frequency ranges that dont bump into all those devices you find in everyday offices.

• Network management systems, which make it easy to accommodate all the many devices now trying to access the network. If N+I was rooted as a showcase for tying together the disparate local networks that once populated the corporation, the next step has to be building networks that accommodate lots of devices. A year ago, there were not many systems that could rebuild information based on the type of device making an information request. Now, more of these systems are in evidence, but most are still coming out of the beta stage.

Building a stable network has been the goal of IT execs since the network was first conceived. Maybe this is the year that the goal of stabilization and the Las Vegas gambling mentality will finally learn to coexist.

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