FRAMINGHAM (03/03/2000) - TRANSPORTATION IDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS All Jetsons, Star Wars and Star Trek references aside, personal flying vehicles are already here. And you'll be seeing some in the skies sooner than you think.
Millennium Jet's SoloTrek XFV, for example, is a step-in and strap-on, stand-up flying machine. The single-person vehicle resembles a cross between a high-tech roller coaster ride and a small helicopter. The pilot hops into the footrests and ergonomically designed backrest and moves the vehicle with two handles at a flexed-arm height. This gets you going up, down and sideways.
Where you lift off and touch down will be up to you; the XFV runs on unleaded gas and has VTOL capability-as in, vertical take off and landing. Top speeds will hover around 80 mph and cruising altitude is anything below 100 feet, though the XFV has yet to make its maiden voyage (scheduled for sometime in mid-2000). The cost has not been announced, but Millennium Jet, based in Santa Clara, Calif., says that once it becomes available to the public, pricing will be "equivalent to that of a high-end sports car." Operators must have a pilot's license. Check out www.millenniumjet.com for more information, including the answer to the especially important question, "What happens if the engine quits?"
Moller International's M400 Skycar, on the other hand, has seats for you and three passengers, along with eight engines and three onboard computers for flight management. Like the SoloTrek XFV, it runs on gas and has VTOL capability; however, taking off and landing is only at FAA-approved "vertiports." A pilot's license is required for this one as well.
At first glance, the M400 resembles more of a jet fighter than a flying minivan. It has a fiber-reinforced plastic airframe and has flown to heights of 40 feet. Top speeds are 600 mph. The M400 has done some prototype flying, while the M200X (two-seater) has made over 200 successful flights.
For $5,000, you can reserve an ordering position for the M400 while it gets FAA-certified for public use-probably in two years. Pricing will be around $1 million; Moller International, of Davis, Calif., says as more are produced, the price should drop to that of a luxury car. Visit www.moller.com.
BY THE NUMBERS Compiled by Derek Slater
DATA CENTER PERFORMANCE Mainframe and Unix data centers require slightly different priorities, according to consulting agency Compass America in Reston, Va. The priority in mainframes is pure efficiency, reducing costs as much as possible. For Unix data centers, the demand for efficiency must be balanced with the need to invest in software tools and extra hardware to achieve necessary service levels.
MAINFRAME DATA CENTERS Best-in-class performance metrics for large (800+ MIPS) mainframe data centers BEST PRACTICES FOR IT 1. Grow the workload or outsource to improve cost efficiency. "What we see with insourced data centers is 'grow or die.' If you don't have increasing workload, it's very difficult to get decreasing unit costs. If you aren't growing, you can buy those cost reductions from a vendor, i.e., outsource," says Syd Hutchinson, a senior data center consultant for Compass America.
2. Configure mainframe systems to simplify software licensing. Buying the biggest system possible and going with a single image reduces software costs.
Standardizing the software portfolio is also important. "You don't want to do things three different ways," says Hutchinson. "You have to be willing to throw out [redundant] products."
3. Automate processes where possible to reduce staffing costs.
Suggest future topics to numbers @cio.com.
ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS AND A ONE, AND A TWO... The orchestra steps on stage. The musicians take their seats. The audience waits expectantly for the conductor to appear. What happens next? Nothing, if the orchestra in question is New York City-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, a world-renowned chamber orchestra that has acted without a conductor for the whole of its 28-year existence.
Nothing...and then music.
In a world where a flatter organization is becoming the goal of many companies, Orpheus embodies the concept of teamwork, collaboration and mutual respect that many CEOs talk about but often have difficulty achieving. For each piece of music the orchestra performs, a core group of 5 to 10 musicians, chosen by a committee (which in turn is chosen by the orchestra), leads the piece. The core group shapes the initial concept of the piece, plans the rehearsal process and has to convince the rest of the orchestra it has chosen the right approach. The orchestra as a whole works together to refine the work, with members chiming in to make suggestions.
The results? "Nothing short of spectacular and breathtaking," says Harvey Seifter, the orchestra's executive director. "We try to unleash the joy and the creativity and the passion of each member. People call us a leaderless orchestra, but we're actually a multileader orchestra."
So accomplished is Orpheus in its ability to work without a conductor that it has become a unique business model. The orchestra has taken on some consulting gigs with the likes of Kraft Foods and Novartis and has demonstrated its methods for the City University of New York. --Meg Mitchell VOLUNTEERING THE TOUGHEST IS JOB YOU'LL EVER LOVE Want to lend your services to a worthy cause but don't have time to deliver meals to the elderly or raise funds for a hospital? If you have an internet connection, hundreds of nonprofit organizations want you.
Virtual volunteers-also known as online volunteers, cyber servers, telementors and teletutors-support nonprofit organizations' via the internet.
Volunteers at The Boulder Community Network (BCN) (bcn.boulder.co.us) in Boulder, Colo., build websites and applications for other nonprofits. Jim Harrington, BCN's volunteer coordinator, says many of his volunteers opt to work from home on their own schedules. "We encounter a lot of people with technology skills and a desire to give back to their community, but not much free time to work in the office."
Michelle Walter is a virtual volunteer at Sidelines National Support Network (www.sidelines.org), for example, a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based organization that matches women experiencing high-risk pregnancies with volunteer e-mail companions. Walter, a full-time mother who relied on e-mails from Sidelines volunteers to get her through her own difficult pregnancy, knows the isolation and frustration these mothers-to-be feel. "These women are all around the country and many are bedridden. We would never have all hooked up without the internet."
Regardless of your service preference, a nonprofit organization likely exists that needs your virtual aid. "The internet is a dream come true for nonprofit organizations," says Jayne Cravens, manager of the Virtual Volunteering Project (www. serviceleader.org/vv) at the University of Texas at Austin, which helps agencies initiate online volunteering initiatives. "Nonprofits are experts in community relationship building, and [that] is the heart and soul of the internet." --Emelie Rutherford ASSET MANAGEMENT PLAYING FAST AND LOOSE An organization can have the most valuable assets in the world, but if it doesn't manage them carefully, they won't do it much good. In fact, failing to manage assets can do an organization real harm.
Such was one of the conclusions from a recent independent survey, commissioned by Cablesoft, of 239 North American corporations and their methods of network-infrastructure management. A full 77 percent of the respondents admitted they had no network infrastructure management solution in place, preferring instead to keep records on spreadsheets or even in their heads. That can lead to trouble, according to Cablesoft, including extended downtime; inadequate IT reporting to senior management; excessive manual verification resulting in high labor charges and delays; failure to meet E-911 telecomm compliance; and inadequate disaster recovery provisions.
Cablesoft's recommendation? Develop a structured asset-management procedure.
Says Pete Pela, CEO and president of the Tempe, Ariz., company, "The only way to ensure you know what's sitting on your network, its age and status is to have a set procedure or solution in place."
Not surprisingly, Cablesoft can help. But regardless of the solution you choose, it would probably behoove you not to fall within the imperiled 77 percent.
CIO CONNECTIONS Compiled by Tom Field
WASHINGTON CIO REPLACES ...HIMSELF Steve Kolodney, former CIO of the state of Washington, recently left a new private-sector job...to be CIO of the state of Washington again.
This wild ride began last June 30, when Kolodney, 57, resigned after a four-year stint with the state. During that time, Kolodney headed up Washington's Y2K remediation effort and built the government's "Access Washington" website. The state twice won the Progress and Freedom Foundation's "Digital State Award" for innovative use of technology. But with these accomplishments under his belt, Kolodney wanted a change, so he accepted a private-sector position as executive director of the Center for Digital Technology, a government CIO organization affiliated with Government Technology magazine.
Yet after just two months, Kolodney found himself longing for Olympia again. He missed state government. "It became clear to me that I can make a bigger contribution from inside the arena than outside," Kolodney told Governing magazine, a monthly state and local government journal published by Congressional Quarterly Inc. As soon as Washington Gov. Gary Locke got word that Kolodney might welcome his old job back, he quickly made him an offer-which Kolodney quickly accepted.
In the brief time Kolodney was gone, state employees got a 3 percent raise. So, he not only got his old job back, he got more money too.
Who says you can't go home again?
CIOS ON THE GO... Marty Chuck
Agilent Technologies has signed on with Agilent Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., as the company's first CIO; Agilent, a diversified technology company, is a spinoff of Hewlett-Packard; Chuck is a 15-year HP veteran Eileen Gabriel RCN Telecom Services RCN Telecom Services, a Princeton, N.J.-based communications services vendor, has chosen Gabriel to be CIO; Gabriel's immediate challenges are to continue deployment of RCN's new convergent billing and operations support project Andrew R. Guzman Stockwalk.com Group Stockwalk.com Group, a Minneapolis-based financial services company, has hired Guzman as executive VP and CIO/CTO; Guzman will bring his systems integration expertise into play at Stockwalk.com Joshua S. Levine E-Trade Securities Levine, previously managing director and global head of equities for Deutsche Bank, joins E-Trade Securities as CIO, replacing Debra Chrapaty, who becomes the company's chief media officer Timothy Monteith Domino's Pizza Monteith has become the first-ever CIO at Domino's Pizza, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Monteith will report directly to CEO David A. Brandon; among his immediate goals is developing new point-of-sale technologies Douglas C. Nassaur Linuxcare Inc. Nassaur has been appointed CIO of Linuxcare Inc., a San Francisco-based Linux support vendor; he previously was VP of technical operations at E-Trade Technologies Steven D. Sutherland CB Richard Ellis CB Richard Ellis, the Los Angeles-based real estate services company, has named Sutherland its CIO for the Americas; Sutherland is responsible for developing and delivering common infrastructure and applications for all of the company's American business units DATA STORAGE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING Whether you're trying to house your Imelda-worthy shoe collection or a company's records, it seems like the available storage space is never enough.
Modern technology still hasn't conquered the shoe problem, but some high-tech companies are working to make it easier to store data. At NEC Research Institute in Princeton, N.J., Senior Research Scientist Richard Linke and his colleagues are developing a method for transferring data to crystals using holography. Linke makes small changes in the optical properties of the crystals by "writing" data into them. He divides a laser light into a signal beam, which carries the data, and a reference beam, which etches the data into the crystal.
Linke says the crystals could store up to 1,000 times more data than today's hard drives. "If I succeed, it may well change the future storage technology of choice," says Linke.
Storage Technology (StorageTek), based in Louisville, Colo., is also thinking of new ways to help its clients store their digital information. Among the company's offerings is an innovative pay-as-you-use service, similar to the method electric and phone companies use to charge their customers. Monthly rates range from less than one cent to several cents per megabyte. The types of service include onsite management of a company's data storage; remote monitoring, in which the storage system software and hardware is based at the customer's site but is monitored from afar by StorageTek; and remote management, which is internet- or network-based storage that StorageTek manages through a partner's internet data center. For more information, visit www.storagetek.com.
WHAT'S THE WORD? Try as they might, those Microsoft people have yet to produce a thesaurus that can meet the demands of the average high school student, let alone satisfy the yearnings of an intrepid sesquipedalian or budding etymologist (case in point: the most recent version can't recognize at least two of the words in that sentence).
Enter the venerable Oxford English Dictionary. This month, anxious wordsmiths will for the first time be able to consult the OED online. Subscribers will have access to the electronic edition of the 20-volume dictionary and will be able to display its entries according to their individual needs-by choosing whether or not to view pronunciation keys or variant spellings, for example.
They also will receive quarterly updates published as part of an ongoing effort to revamp the lengthy work. For the past 10 years, the OED crew has been painstakingly charting the changes time hath wrought on the English language since the first edition was published in 1928. The $55 million project is scheduled for completion in 2010.
For more information, visit www.oed.com.
ODE TO THE SHOPPING CART Here's a factoid to break the ice at any party: The average shopper using a shopping cart at a brick-and-mortar mass-market retail store buys 7.2 items, whereas the shopper without a cart buys only 6.1 items.
Translation: Stores with shopping carts enjoy almost a 20 percent advantage.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS The birth control pill is among the most effective methods of contraception available, and one of the most popular as a result.
But it doesn't take a medical degree to figure out that its effectiveness decreases sharply when women forget to take it-and that happens all the time.
In fact, a 1998 Gallup poll found that almost 20 percent of women on the pill complain about having to remember to take it. That's why West Orange, N.J.-based pharmaceutical company Organon has started including an electronic reminder card with all new prescriptions of its oral contraceptive Mircette.
The plastic card, which is about the size of a credit card, is outfitted with a microchip timer that can be programmed to beep at the same time every day. It's a subtle reminder in that it can be tucked into a purse or wallet, but the alarm-clockish noise, while not ear-shattering, might get you noticed in a meeting. Visit www.organonwomenshealth.com.
UNIX DATA CENTERS Best-in-class performance metrics for 50-server Unix data centers Best Practices for IT Total support cost: $33,600 per server (excludes hardware) Software cost: $7,200 per server (excludes DBMS) Servers per full-time equivalent: 3 to 4 Unit costs decreasing: 12 percent per year Data center capacity growth: 50 percent or more annually is not unusual 1. Consolidate onto fewer servers. "In older Unix environments, we see one or multiple boxes for one application. There's no sharing of applications on a single box. It's a midrange mentality," Hutchinson says. High-end Unix systems that host multiple applications, plus shared disk and shared tape systems, are cheaper and easier to manage. More boxes means higher staff and software costs.
2. Invest in processes and software tools to increase uptime. Here Unix centers have different needs than do mainframe operations. "Unix has seen blazing growth but without the kind of processes and tools that people have in the mainframe environment. We're telling people to spend the money and buy the functionality to get quality up to the mainframe standards," Hutchinson says.
Compass's research indicates typical mainframe availability is 99.7 percent (higher for financial businesses). Out-of-the-box Unix availability dips to 99.5 percent.
HOT TOPIC E-COMMERCE UNEASY CONNECTIONS By Megan Santosus If you thought implementing ERP was tough, just wait. The emergence of e-commerce is bringing with it a new challenge: integrating back-end ERP applications with web-based front-end systems.
That was the prevailing sentiment at "Strategies for Linking E-Commerce with ERP," a conference presented in New Orleans in December by the International Quality and Productivity Center, a Little Falls, N.J.-based provider of educational forums (www.iqpc.com).
The challenge is a daunting one, but it's also a big opportunity, according to one of the speakers at the conference. "Right now, less than five percent of the top 2,000 CEOs came up through IS," said Randall Nelson, former CIO of Millennium Chemicals and now president of Information Management Associates, a consulting company in Houston. "In six to eight years, e-commerce will propel that number to 50 percent."
With that in mind, about three dozen practitioners, consultants and vendors at the conference swapped case studies and asked questions about integrating ERP with e-commerce. And while representatives from the likes of Hewlett-Packard, JD Edwards and SAP managed to sneak commercials into their presentations, not one of them claimed that their company's technology would make linking ERP and e-commerce easy.
ERP, which often takes three years to implement, tends to be rigid, internally focused and hard to change. E-commerce systems, on the other hand, are focused externally on customers, partners and suppliers. Ideally, they should be flexible and adaptable, enabling companies to establish and dissolve partnerships on the fly.
A free-flowing discussion at the conference resulted in some actionable advice:
Thanks to Y2K, most companies should have a clear picture of the status of their systems, so now is a good time to perform an e-commerce readiness review.
First, take stock of your company's resources, both in terms of personnel and computing capacity. Next, gauge the commitment level of executives in the company: Do they feel a sense of urgency? Do they view e-commerce as an opportunity or a threat? Companies should then plan an appropriate strategy that includes integration with existing ERP systems.
A BACHELOR'S DREAM COME TRUE One of the great levelers in our time-pressed world is that we all need to bathe, and we all need to clean our clothes. But today a new technology promises to make the latter a little less imperative.
Halo Source Corp., based in Seattle, has developed technology to keep clothes fresh for days, even with repeated wearing.
Halo's development is an antimicrobial technology that uses a polymer to bond chlorine atoms to cotton fabrics and cotton blends. Under this patented system, the chlorine atoms work to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms-all known offenders to the sensitive nose. The result? You can wear those sweat socks again and again, and they'll remain fresh as a daisy.
Best of all, the technology gets recharged by periodic laundering with bleach.
Says Paul Budlong, Halo's marketing manager, this is the "first major innovation to hit textiles since permanent press 30 years ago."
The first products to appear using Halo's technology will be socks, which are due from Halo in the first quarter of this year. Following that, look for athletic clothing, towels and dishcloths, as well as medical linens and kitchen equipment. Visit www.halosource.com.
HOT TOPIC ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING KEEP IT SIMPLE By Christopher Koch Most ERP vendors have designed their software to match the different functional areas of a company, such as finance or sales and distribution. Each little universe gets its own chunk of software loaded with automated versions of the tasks it performs. The different chunks link together so that they can share information with one another.
While that may seem logical to a corporate VP, it can be a confusing mess for employees. About 80 percent of typical ERP users access just 5 percent of the system's functionality, according to IFS AB, a Swedish ERP vendor. Yet when people log in, they get the whole enchilada.
"For the people who use it a lot, a heavy application is fine, but for the guys who just want some information, they need a simple tool," says Johan Peterson, manager of process control systems for Assi Doman, a pulp and paper manufacturer in Kramfors, Sweden.
Peterson's company is experimenting with "role-based portals," which give ERP a more human face by siphoning off only the pieces of the ERP system that a particular job function needs. At Assi Doman, plant managers get the whole ERP fire hose, but plant machine operators get an intranet web page that contains only what they need to report problems with the plant's machines or get troubleshooting help. The screens can also contain links to other company applications or websites that might be relevant.
"It means combining all the information sources that a person in a particular job function needs to see together into a single view," says Brian Johnson, CTO for the Tucson, Ariz.-based U.S. subsidiary of IFS (www.ifsab.com/usa).
IFS claims that its role-based portal program, dubbed IFS Personal Enterprise, reduces ERP implementation time and improves productivity. "If you can get the information you need yourself rather than having to call someone else, then you reduce the queue and wait time for getting jobs done," Johnson says.