Keeping tabs on software licences pays dividends
David Brook, director, Turnstone Services
It was good to read Stephan Glathe's letter on software licensing (Computer Weekly, 23 January). I regularly meet companies that have not kept a close eye on software licence requirements, some of which waste hundreds of thousands of pounds on maintenance and support costs for licences that could be shelved.
I agree that there is enormous value in maintaining a cohesive record of all software licences purchased and their associated annual costs. It is what you then do with this information that counts.
As a company's software needs change over time, suppliers should be commercially targeted to meet those needs.
Three lessons can prove invaluable in ensuring that software licence and maintenance costs are kept low. One is avoiding automatic annual contract rollovers. This forces suppliers to engage with the buyer, who is then able to negotiate.
The second lesson is to have regular reviews of support usage, so the buyer can assess whether the purchased level of support is still required. There is no point having 20 people waiting to fix problems if you never have any. Traditionally, support calls are high in year one, dropping off as bugs are ironed out.
And thirdly, termination clauses for maintenance should include repayment of unused parts of the maintenance. If you terminate a contract, it is unfair to expect that you still pay for the rest of the year's maintenance and support.
These are just some of the ways that companies can keep software licence and support costs low. In my experience, the effort required to track changing software needs is more than amply rewarded.
Tetra supports voice and data communication
Olli Nokso-Koivisto, TETRAsim
Your article "Avon trial reveals limits of police Tetra network" claims that simultaneous data and voice communication is impossible in a Tetra network. This is incorrect.
There are handsets on the market that support this feature, such as devices from EADS. Tetra is different from GSM in this respect and thus a great tool for these kinds of applications.
Many fears over access to patient data remain
Paul Malcolm, UK general manager, Sentillion
If NHS chief executive David Nicholson wants the "NHS to own, love and understand the National Programme", he must first acknowledge the concerns of those involved with the development of the project.
The dossier of problems published by the 23 academics highlights that an implementation of this scope is not straightforward and reiterates a need for improved confidentiality of patient data.
The NPfIT is about sharing information effectively across departments and regions, but a project of this magnitude could easily become compromised due to insufficient protection. The privacy of sensitive information continues to raise widespread concern among NHS professionals and the public.
To answer these critics, the NPfIT needs to ensure information is protected, that only the relevant people have access to it, and that they have access appropriate only to their position. Nevertheless, where access is warranted, it is vital that information can be viewed as quickly as possible because it could save lives.
No experience, no job shuts out IT graduates
The skills shortage is one thing, but I bet all the employers want a degree and three years' experience before they consider employing somebody. I am an IT graduate and I cannot get a job because no one will give me the experience.
Flash drives put an end to heyday of floppy disc
Barry Edmonds, regional director UK and Iberia, Imation
It was only a matter of time before discs would disappear from stores (Computer Weekly, 6 February), especially as 98% of PCs and laptops no longer have drives capable of taking them.
Consumers and workers alike are demanding better built-in security, capacity and life-span which discs cannot offer. A total of 14 million flash drives were shipped in Western Europe in 2005 alone, which demonstrates how perfectly suited they are to the needs of today's user.
The heyday for the floppy disc has passed as users strive to keep pace with fast-moving technology. With only 1.44Mbytes of data the disc was simply unable to compete with flash drives and CDs, but will be fondly remembered as a vital part of computing history.
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