Your shout: discrimination, mainframe survival, Gateway Reviews

Computer Weekly readers' give their vews on the week's news

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Impose decent standards to stop discrimination

Sam Boote

In relation to the discussion about discrimination in IT recruitment, your anonymous recruiter (Letters, 1 August) blames employers for asking recruitment agencies not to send foreign or older candidates or those without a clear accent.

However, if agencies made it clear that such unwarranted and (in many cases) illegal discrimination was unacceptable, the employers would have no choice but to accept the conditions or else come out into the open and do their own recruitment.

The solution is in the hands of the recruiters - impose decent standards and expect the rest of the industry to respect them. Would you phone your local surgery and ask to see only a young white doctor? Would you expect your request to be agreed? So why should IT be any different?

Long-term survival of the mainframe is safe

Ron Grevink Attachmate

Clive Longbottom's inventive analogy "In the beginning was the mainframe" (Computer Weekly, 18 July) gives a generally good description of how business IT has evolved. However, I think his views on the future of the IT organisation are a little off target.

Longbottom suggests that "the mountains [mainframes] are ill-suited to long-term survival". However, the debate about the death of the mainframe has been going on for years. The fact remains that in certain industries the mainframe is king and an "if it is not broken, do not fix it" mentality is firmly in place.

The global insurance industry, for example, has been using mainframes and green-screen applications for more than 20 years. The system works and supports the business, and most end-users are used to the green-screen interfaces. More importantly, customers are happy with the services provided, especially since the use of modern wrapping technology and HTML front-ends offer the ability to hide the complexity of the green-screen interfaces.

The long-term survival of the mainframe must, therefore, be considered safe. In the beginning was indeed the mainframe, but for some stories it is likely that in the end there will be the mainframe.

Publish reviews to avoid repeating mistakes

Tim Holyoake, Consultant, Software AG

I would welcome a move to make Gateway Review reports available to the public (Computer Weekly, 25 July).

It is no secret that the tried and tested way of achieving best practice is through sharing of experience, frank discussion and learning from mistakes. Continuing to keep problems and issues behind closed doors will simply lead to exactly the same mistakes being made again (and unwittingly) in a different department down the hall.

At a time when the public sector is pursuing the worthy goal of joined-up government and increased efficiencies, the current approach to IT project reviews seems very odd.

In many areas the government's approach to modernisation needs to evolve. It must take constructive criticism on board and make best use of public funds, and I look forward to seeing government CIO John Suffolk's progress in this arena.

Big Question misses the real issue on monitoring

Simon Ratcliffe, Business Systems Group

Your Big Question results looking into e-mail monitoring (Computer Weekly, 25 July) made for interesting reading. However, the numbers fail to tell a complete story and the context provided by the IT professionals interviewed all miss out a vital perspective: that of the users themselves.

Staff are, on the whole, smart enough not to send offensive, obscene or sensitive material via e-mail. This is rarely a matter of technology, but one of the culture and management within the firm.

From a director's perspective, the need to address compliance may mean that there is support for e-mail monitoring, but checking every outbound e-mail is not only a technical and logistical nightmare, it also demotivates staff and induces a climate of fear. Spot checks are thus a far more practical and effective method.

There is often the perception from staff that they have a right to chat about personal issues. There is, however, a big question mark over whether or not e-mail is suitable for this task. Enter instant messaging and its obvious suitability.

However, here is the real next concern over monitoring: with so many firms relying on publicly available instant messaging systems, there is nowhere near the right level of monitoring or auditability available. As a result, the need for monitoring may yet remain, albeit in a different state to that currently under discussion.

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