Stories by Maryfran Johnson

Gridlock reality

If you take a big swig of vendor cordial from IBM, HP, Sun or Oracle these days, it’ll taste a whole lot like grid computing. The actual flavour might be labelled (or mislabelled) as something else: utility, on-demand, autonomic, adaptive or even pervasive computing. But the upshot will be this notion of making miraculously cost-effective use of idle networked computing resources.

Resource for recovery

Let’s indulge ourselves in a little optimism. Let’s assume that the latest upbeat surveys about IT spending in 2004 are right on the money.

IBM's Connors talks about Wi-Fi trends, plans

A future built around pervasive wireless communication ranks high on IBM's list of the most important trends in "on-demand" computing, right up there with autonomic or self-healing networks, ever-speedier processors and modular hardware and software designs.

March to consolidation

The storage industry right now is marching on towards consolidation. IDC estimates that consolidating access and data management into a single location can slash storage management costs by up to 70 per cent.

Larry makes a grandstand play

Oracle's hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft has sparked a flurry of media coverage in the past 10 days — predictably so. The story has the classic elements of a made-for-TV movie: a dramatic surprise attack, high-stakes finance with antitrust overtones, executive power struggles and a quirky cast of combative CEOs.

The accordion effect

Gary Pilafas calls what the storage industry is experiencing right now the "accordion effect," referring humorously to the way the old-fashioned musical instrument makes music only when all that hot air is squeezed out. As a senior storage architect at UAL Loyalty Services Inc., the e-commerce arm of financially stressed United Air Lines, Pilafas has a front-row seat for this particular concert. "It's the march to consolidation," he said at Computerworld's Storage Networking World conference in Phoenix. "It's happening now, and it's a good thing."

Standards stupidity

Given the choice of watching paint dry or paying attention to the techno-political infighting that goes on within industry standards bodies, most of us would opt for the paint. But when there’s big trouble brewing over Web services — between the Web’s leading standards organisation and the dominating duo of IBM and Microsoft — it’s time to take notice.

Cyberwhocares? IT should!

Is cyberterrorism real? Should corporate IT be worried about it? A few weeks ago, I would have answered no to both questions. I would have argued that labeling any computer attack as "terrorism" is a grotesque exaggeration. I would have cited renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, CTO at Counterpane Internet Security Inc., who contends that genuine cyberterrorism is still decades away.

Avoid the 'gotcha'

If you've ever had consultants perform a security audit on your network then you know all about the "gotcha report." That's what security wonks call the big, thick, overwhelming document handed over after an audit that shows the results from automated scans used to pinpoint the thousands of vulnerabilities and likely attack points on your company's network.

Security strategists wanted

By virtue of his employer, Scott Charney of Microsoft Corp. is probably the most widely recognized name among an emerging breed of corporate information security chiefs. Yet the onetime federal cybercop and prosecutor has been on the job in Redmond only about 10 weeks. He divides his time between figuring out how to secure Microsoft's massive and infamously insecure product line, andquietly wielding his clout in Washington on a number of government security boards and consortia.

Demystifying ROI

Who's afraid of ROI? You are. At least, that's what CFOs would have us all believe. Despite much dutiful attention to the biggest buzzword of the year, the rap persists among CFOs that IT is not only afraid of ROI but also clueless about how to find it, figure it and finesse it.

Web adolescence

As any parent who has survived it will tell you, adolescence is a balancing act between tantalizing potential and nerve-racking risk. So it's a mixed blessing that the Web is now arriving at its own riveting version of this stage.

Windows homeland

It is hard to believe it has been only eight years since Bill Gates changed everything with that historic announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when he proclaimed Windows XP the "digital hub" for the home.

Mission-critical Web

Bank One made front-page news last week with its startling announcement of plans to hire 600 IT professionals in the next two years. But it wasn't the number of jobs that was so encouraging during these dark days for the national economy. It was the loud-and-clear leadership signal the Chicago-based bank sent about Web infrastructure development as the next wave of mission-critical IT.

Man the merger lifeboats

As the river of verbiage about the proposed Hewlett-Packard Co./Compaq Computer Corp. merger flowed across the media recently, everybody floating past had a role to play. The CEOs gamely touted "synergy" and the dubious benefits of uniting two struggling companies. Industry analysts mused about layoffs and product-line consolidations. Wall Street types watched the stock prices sink.