Analyze Businesss Processes, Options

Once business processes are modeled, links and bridges can be built among apps.

The advice from the annual Gartner Symposium in Orlando last week fell into two categories. First, Gartner has latched onto the idea of creating a real-time enterprise as a way to gain business efficiencies to rekindle a lackluster economy. Second, companies need to place small and thoughtful bets in their IT spending rather than try for a big win.

Those recommendations make sense but require much more time in the development and prototype cycles than companies have been spending. The real-time enterprise is mostly a return to trying to determine how to tie together all the parts of a companys information architecture. With few companies willing to toss out entire infrastructures, the task at hand is geared to figuring out how a companys business processes operate. Once the process is modeled, developers can build links and bridges among applications. The difference this time around is that all that linking will be viewed through a corporate portal and the information made available to customers and select vendors. See Darryl Tafts story "New Tools Ease Portal Development" for an update on new portal offerings and Renee Boucher Fergusons article "Metaserver Beefs Up Integration Software" for the latest business integration software from Metaserver.

One area where a company may want to make a small and thoughtful bet is on the Linux operating system. This week in our eWeek Labs section, we address the question of whether Linux is ready to be a player on the corporate desktop. Knowledgeable IT execs know that the initial cost of a software or hardware project has little to do with the decision-making process. In "Linux Renews Desktop Bid," Anne Chen does a fine job at explaining all the considerations that need to go into the equation regarding desktop Linux. Although most analysts dont see a big move to Linux over the next five years, it would be well worth your time to consider the pros and cons of such a move. At the least, a knowledge of the possibilities of desktop Linux can help you negotiate the best rates for your current (probably Windows) desktop environment.

Thinking about the real-time enterprise and trying to develop little wins should not get in the way of keeping your current network up and running. In a time of business consolidations, a slumping economy and IT layoffs, one victim is often regular maintenance and monitoring. Read Caron Carlsons article "Maintaining the Internet," which reports that it was most likely a reduction in operations staff that led to the recent outages of WorldComs UUNet backbone.

On what technologies do you place your bets? Tell me at