On how security affects shareholder confidence
In response to Nick Huber (Computer Weekly, 7 September), who reported on a LogicaCMG study which found that companies are not developing written security policies
If a company does not have an information security policy, this will have a material impact on shareholder confidence and stock valuation.
Shareholder research should now include an examination and evaluation of how a company is managed and what steps it has or has not taken to secure its intellectual property and capital.
The solution is simple and comes down to asking two important qualifying questions: has the company established information classification policies and procedures that have been published, and have they implemented a solution to enforce these? If this cannot be confirmed, it is best to steer clear of any investment.
Alan Cornwell, chief operating officer, SealedMedia
On the barriers to adopting IP telephony
In response to a survey by analyst firm Gartner, which revealed that companies are not adopting IP telephony because of cost (Computer Weekly, 31 August)
Many organisations keen to leverage the benefits of IP telephony are put off because they are being led to believe that widespread infrastructure change (and therefore significant investment) is required prior to deployment - irrespective of how far they wish to go towards a fully converged model. This is simply not true. There are a number of highly effective, cost-reducing, halfway houses.
In the majority of situations a hybrid IP solution is best suited to meet current and future requirements. The best hybrid approach enables an organisation to be 100% native (peer-to-peer) IP at one end of the spectrum, 100% traditional telephony at the other end, and any combination in between. This gives an organisation freedom to choose how fast it wishes to adopt the latest technology, enabling a cost-effective migratory strategy for convergence, while ensuring a future-proof system.
There is still a need to evangelise the benefits of converged networking, but the speed at which the transition takes place from voice and data networks to a converged network is not the be all and end all.
Chris de Silva, managing director, Philips Business Communications
On integrating legacy apps with web services
In response to the Hot Skills column (Computer Weekly, 7 September), which said Cobol is in demand because of its ability to integrate with Java and .net
Nick Langley is right to raise the dichotomy of moving into a Java and web-enabled future at a time when 75% of businesses still rely on legacy applications.
If this coexistence is to promote business agility and innovation, application development firms need to evolve. It is no longer appropriate for Cobol programmers, or programmers of any language, to work in isolation.
If legacy applications are to step out from behind their green screens and become first-class citizens in the worlds of Java and .net, development teams must embrace the need for integration in everything they deliver. Web services are key to this liberation of legacy business logic.
Technology providers have a huge responsibility in this area. It is not enough to provide feature-rich development environments if in doing so they encourage programmers to continue working in silos. We must accept that heterogeneity is here to stay, both from a language and platform perspective, and offer productivity tools that encourage and simplify interoperability.
Legacy is firmly back on everyone's agenda. Businesses and universities need to recognise this and take seriously the needs of business now and well into the future.
Mike Gilbert, director of product strategy, Micro Focus
Consider the total cost of Linux before adoption
Matthew Saunders (Letters, 21 September), made some interesting points about adopting Linux but ignored others. When a large company looks at the cost of ownership of an operating system, it makes several considerations including the purchase of a licence, which applications will work with it, the cost of training a support department and users, and integration with existing systems.
Microsoft Windows may have not got the lowest price tag, but when talking about total cost of ownership, this is not the only consideration. Linux is an interesting alternative to Windows but it still has some growing to do before it becomes a replacement in a corporate desktop environment.
Andrew Harris, user support officer, Writtle College
Why the Linux learning curve is worth the effort
Our company is steadily moving towards Microsoft-free computing. There many different reasons, a few being the manageability of user PCs; ease of configuration and scripting; ease of applying changes to the client PCs; security and a virus-free environment; Unix networking in favour of SMB (Windows) network; no dependency on Microsoft's view on the upgrades; the ability of Linux to work on lower spec PCs; licence costs; and support costs.
In my experience nothing can replace Linux in terms of ease of setting up software or tracking down problems. Once this has been done you know where to go next time - unlike Windows, where you do something once and the same process will refuse to work on another machine.
If you are coming from a Windows background the learning curve is quite steep, but it is well worth it as you will gain a much deeper understanding of how your systems work and find you are in control of everything.
As to Newham's decision to go with Microsoft over open source, I am very disappointed. I believe Linux is a better solution in 99% of circumstances. There are many things that are hard to tie into a total cost of ownership, but which can make life a lot easier, such as a better understanding and control of your PC environment, freedom of choice, personal satisfaction and making a contribution to the open source community.
Alex Starostin, senior software developer, John Smith & Son
Ignore the Linux debate, apps are the future
With regard to the debate over the merits of Microsoft and open source (Computer Weekly, 14 September), the bigger picture is being ignored.
Linux's challenge to Microsoft's is just a sideshow compared to the seismic shifts occurring in the computing industry. The decision of Newham Council to choose Microsoft is a storm in a teacup in comparison to what lies ahead.
Today, only 2% of the world's microprocessors sit inside desktop computers and servers. The rest go into some three billion electronic devices - anything from MP3 players to pacemakers. The increasing complexity of the software required to guide these devices will give birth to a multibillion-dollar industry which will dwarf the market for desktop software.
So, what is the significance of this for Microsoft? Unlike the PC market, it is far from dominant in this new market. This is largely because there is no value to be gained from developing proprietary operating systems, which has always been Microsoft's cash cow.
Linux is effectively rendering the operating system an irrelevant, commodity product that will in turn shift all the value to where it should be: the development of compelling applications.
Andreas Pabinger, vice-president EMEA, Wind River Software
Finance holds the key to IT project deadlines
So Ian Watmore is to form a "super group" of information officers to drive implementation in the public sector (Computer Weekly, 14 September).
This is a commendable idea but perhaps this super group should also include IT finance specialists. After all, part of the group's remit is to help public sector organisations meet the deadlines for IT implementation.
These imposed deadlines have become the norm for the public sector and businesses. Indeed, is there any area of industry, commercial or public sector, that isn't under considerable pressure (both in terms of time and money) to update, upgrade, implement, integrate, secure and streamline its business processes?
Computer Weekly's IT Expenditure Report proved that NHS IT is "sufficiently large to make an impact on the overall UK picture" (Computer Weekly, 14 September). But for the businesses facing these deadlines the financial impact may be less positive. The banks are asking a lot of the retail sector and the government is asking the same of everyone else: invest heavily in IT by a certain date, or we will make you pay in some other less palatable way.
Unfortunately, these deadlines tend to show scant regard for planned budgets or identified replacement cycles, and place extreme financial pressure on even the most robust and secure businesses. In the public sector allocated budgets never stretch far enough; in the private sector these budgets may not exist at all.
A super group of IT finance specialists would soon have this problem solved. Flexible finance enables businesses to acquire the IT they need immediately, allowing them to meet deadlines and begin reaping the benefits.
Philip White, Syscap
Are female recruitment initiatives necessary?
I read with interest that the taxpayer is to spend £4.5m on an initiative to try to get more women into IT (Computer Weekly, 21 September), as currently only 19% of IT jobs are filled by women.
Can we expect similar initiatives to encourage more women into refuse collection, sewage maintenance, street cleaning and other male-dominated professions?
And what about initiatives to encourage more men into female-dominated professions such as primary school teaching?