Despite a few potentially dramatic moments—the missed surprise regarding Microsofts Origami project in which the suspense was broken by Intel comes to mind—this years CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany, had products that were best described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary: better security, more integrated supply chain solutions, VOIP everywhere. But that doesnt mean that this most massive of global trade shows was devoid of surprises.
While the Microsoft-branded Origami subtablet got a lot of interest and headlines—it is a Microsoft product after all—the real news for the enterprise was elsewhere.
In some cases, the surprise was new vendors entering old markets. RFID (radio frequency identification) was heavily promoted at CeBIT this year, to the point where German efforts in growing RFID expertise were a significant point in the speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkle when she opened the trade show. Because of this focus, it was no surprise that RFID was a big deal in Hannover. What was interesting was the breadth of companies entering the market this year.
Security alarm company ADT, a division of Tyco International, announced its new RFID effort building on its long history of designing sensors for the security industry. Likewise, companies such as HP demonstrated the fact that they are now using RFID. In the case of HP, this means embedding RFID chips in its printers as a way of tracking production in addition to helping the companys products fit into the supply chain of its customers.
Security, of course, is never far from the minds of IT executives these days. While there are many aspects to security, one area that has grown markedly is locking down removable storage. GFI, which has long been known for solutions to e-mail security, showed a new product that secures any port on a computer that can be used for the transfer of sensitive information. With the GFI product, called Endpoint Security, you have complete control over the conditions in which any information can be transferred out of a computer, ranging from floppy disks to USB ports.
A number of other companies showed products with similar capabilities. In a somewhat different twist, Control Break International announced that the company is shipping a SafeBoot USB memory device that automatically encrypts its contents.
Other security vendors arent standing still. Symantec, for example, is already getting ready for the next version of Windows with its product code-named Genesis. This product will integrate Symantecs existing capabilities with a series of online services ranging from automatic updates to backup and even computer tune-up services.
Trend Micro, meanwhile, has launched its InterScan Web Security Appliance, which is designed to filter out malware before it gets to user computers.
Likewise, IP telephony continues to grow. Cisco Systems subsidiary Linksys, long associated with consumer products, continues its growth into the small and medium enterprise with a new VOIP (voice over IP) phone system, including a new IP PBX. Paired with the new PBX is a line of new IP phones aimed at enterprises of varying sizes and physical requirements. The phone design demonstrates the link with parent Cisco, with phones that look somewhat like Cisco phones but with smaller color screens.
Typical of a show as massive as CeBIT, the range of enterprise equipment went far beyond the obvious. This is a show in which you can find solutions to your CRM system, your fire protection system, your truck content inventory system and your need for a seriously cool music player in a single day.
But for enterprise users, the evolutionary nature of the changes demonstrated that the vendors were paying attention to their customer needs, even if the changes werent dramatic.