IDF OVERVIEW: Intel Courts IT Managers at Conference

Information technology managers played a central role in Intel's developers conference in San Jose last week. The company unveiled improved server processors along with a "concept PC" targeted at IT.

CEO Craig Barrett argued in his keynote that peer-to-peer computing -- running parts of an application on different computers across the Internet -- is becoming a technology "that IT managers are going to have to worry about."

Intel announced that it has begun shipping the first Pentium III Xeon processors running at 1 GHz. Xeon chips are used in multiprocessor servers and high-end workstations.

Barrett said that with the new processors, the company is ready to handle all e-commerce data center needs.

But Intel-based systems will remain largely excluded from data centers running data mining and big database applications, said John Enck, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc. He said Intel technology is ubiquitous in all other e-commerce server installations.

Barrett also said information technology will soon be using peer-to-peer systems. Citing how Napster Inc. works among hundreds of servers online for consumers of MP3 music files, he said IT managers will use idle processing power of PCs and servers inside their firms to handle data-intensive applications.

Andrew Grimsha, an executive at Applied MetaComputing LLC in Charlottesville, Va., demonstrated a peer-to-peer application in use at Boeing Co. and the U.S.

Department of Defense.

Others said they're doubtful about peer-to-peer computing's usefulness. "It will need a lot more definition before anyone can say one way or the other," said Tim Wright, CIO of Lycos Inc. in Waltham, Mass.

David Wu, an analyst at ABN AMRO Inc. in San Francisco, said peer-to-peer computing isn't ready for commercial use. But, he said, "if IT could do it, they would." Enck echoed Wu, adding, "There is no business infrastructure in place to handle peer-to-peer issues" such as security and management.

One analyst went so far as to call peer-to-peer computing "an IT menace, not a benefit." Bob O'Donnell at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said IT managers need to worry about users who include their machines without IT's knowledge in peer-to-peer operations such as SETI's hunt for intelligent life in the universe, which uses in part, idle PCs connected to the Internet.

At the conference, Intel gave an award to the Akiru Accessible Desktop, a concept PC designed for corporate use, because it gives administrators "tools-free" access to removable components, similar to the G3 systems Apple Computer Inc. introduced last year.

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