Learning Basics of Network Building

Novell and Cambridge Technology partners? At first blush, I thought it was a really goofy combination

Novell and Cambridge Technology partners? At first blush, I thought it was a really goofy combination, but, on a bit more reflection, I think it makes a lot of sense. Heres why. The biggest problem with technology consulting companies is their inability to translate grand-sounding strategic plans into realistic information architectures delivered on time and in working condition. This is not new. The history of consulting is littered with grand schemes that never got past the white-board stage despite lots of wasted time and money.

In the Novell/Cambridge combination, Cambridge has a chance to learn about the nitty-gritty of building corporate networks from folks born and raised in a corporate network operations center. Novell has a chance to learn about the value of focus and establishing business goals rather than lurching from technology to technology.

This marriage clearly comes at a weak moment for both companies, but I think you may see more consultants realize they really have to build systems rather than write white papers in this uncertain economic era.

The same week Novell and Cambridge joined hands, Electronic Data Systems acquired Sabres outsourcing division. This combination of a big-time, old-line systems integrator with an online reservation systems player seems to indicate that the big integrators are eyeing the next link up on the food chain.

At a time when every public company is for sale, someone with money and vision can expand a company on the cheap. If the result of the EDS/Sabre deal is a system that cuts down on those long check-in lines and bumped flights, Im all for it.

Ive had a few e-mail messages asking me about my favorite widgets and gadgets for wending through the technology jungle. Here are three of my current chart toppers:

Linksys (www.linksys.com): Its cable/digital subscriber line router is a rock-solid combination of firewall and router. If you really want to make use of your expensive cable connection and keep the kids connected at Ethernet speeds on the home front, I doubt you can find an easier way to build a home network. Of course, you have to tell your cable provider you will be running multiple systems off that connection.

I plan to tell my provider as soon as I have a free moment.

Fonesync (www.fonesync.com): Every three months, I lose or break my cell phone or toss it against the wall when the connection fails. With Fonesync, you can maintain all your numbers on your PC and download the whole batch into your new phone.

Wayport (www.wayport.com), Laptoplane(www.laptoplane.com) or any other service that offers an Ethernet connection on the road: These services provide fast, relatively inexpensive connections and let you catch up on your e-mail, have a beer and still make your flight connection.