If you had the power ...

Imagine this: With the wave of a magic wand, you're suddenly all-powerful. You can change today's network industry in any way you want. What would you do, and how?

We posed such a challenge to four veteran enterprise network executives in the U.S.: Arun DeSouza, manager of global service assurance and chief information security officer at Inergy Automotive Systems in Michigan; Christopher Paidhrin, IS security officer at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Washington; Jonathan Campbell, director of technology at First Health of the Carolinas in North Carolina; and Elliot Zeltzer, global manager for telecom security at General Motors in Detroit.

In their own words, here's how they would wield their newfound power:

If you had the power to alter any vendor's product strategy in any way, what company would you choose, and what would you do?

DeSouza: Symantec -- I would cease the strategy of constant new acquisitions and technologies, which is diluting the customer-value proposition. I would focus on consolidation, enhancement and integration of existing tool sets. Essentially, my ultimate goal would be to provide holistic centralized management of the portfolio products. This would give me a simplified, security-management cockpit. The consequent increase in efficiency and productivity for IT staff would add to our bottom line and cascade to additional revenue for Symantec

Paidhrin: Microsoft -- the aspect of concern is that the industry's software-development life cycle is constrained by Microsoft's strategic plan, platform and metaphor, because of the company's dominance.

Open source is making noticeable market-share headway, especially in non-U.S. markets, and it shows the way to a dynamic future ... The brief history of IT has proven what the long history of innovation has consistently revealed: Nothing slows down a good idea faster than artificial control by the few, and inversely, nothing speeds the adoption of a good idea faster than its ready accessibility.

Campbell: Vendors that have stuck with Microsoft Windows as the operating system for their applications or various networking appliances need to change their product strategies. What's wrong with Linux? Cisco's CallManagers, for instance, have been Microsoft for a long time, and now with Version 5.0, they're finally Linux. That [Linux] product strategy will be winnable, but most people just decide to build it on Microsoft because everyone knows Microsoft. That's not a winning strategy.

Zeltzer: We want suppliers to work within a common framework, and all of them need to do a better job. The challenge at GM is we're so large. You name it, we're dealing with it. And when you deal with an environment that large, and you come down to the desktop, you could have maybe 30 elements from 20 suppliers. It's difficult to have a common build, to get it certified, tested and then create the user experience with any care.

So we've started to say to these suppliers, and we've said it hard and fast: "Guys, here's the framework you need to work within to get something on our desktop, and I don't want to see proprietary products." They deliver their services, I certify the framework and then I don't have to recertify each time a new product comes along.

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