An Era of Elastic Accounting Unfolds

One of the tenets of the unfolding age is that true sales don't matter.

One of the tenets of the dot-com age was that sales didnt matter. Companies measured success by Web click-throughs, unique visitors or the number of deals with other dot-com companies.

All those measures ended in ashes, along with the companies that tried to convince the world that revenues were old measures best relegated to the old world. One of the tenets of the unfolding age of elastic accounting is that true sales dont matter when you can simply throw a couple zeros onto the revenue side of the ledger sheet and take care of yourself and your cronies while screwing your employees, investors and customers.

If the dot-com story ends with a chuckle over the naiveté of executives and business consultants, the final chapter of the elastic-accounting era can only be disgust. If you want a book to send to your company president to remind him or her of their responsibilities, you might want to skip the recent buzzword-laden management books and send the slim volume "On Leadership" by John W. Gardner, the deceased founder of Common Cause. We continue to follow the sad saga of WorldCom and others (see "Sidgmore: UUNet Is Safe").

One technology saga from the past several years that does thrive is open-source software in the enterprise. As Deb Donston points out in this weeks Labs report, "Open-Source Enterprise," we struggled with the headline in the 1999 review of Linux 2.2s kernel. We asked ourselves then if open source was a passing fad or something IT professionals should consider for development and deployment. This year, we asked our Labs analysts to report on the state of the open-source movement. From handheld operating systems to enterprise resource planning, this report compares the maturity, functionality, cost benefits and inherent risk of open source vs. traditional commercial applications. We talked with users who make enterprise-level open-source decisions. Many were surprised by the amount of open-source software that entered their companies unannounced to upper management. Another surprise was the range of open-source solutions that are available.

Security is the first priority for any software deployment decision, and security in the open-source world presents some vexing problems. In this weeks issue, Dennis Fisher does a good job sorting out the security flap that developed over the recent finding of a flaw in Apache servers ("Whos Watching Whom?").

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