Your shout: renting software, datacentre control, offshore security

Computer Weekly readers' give their views


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The problem with desire for instant gratification

I read with interest Eric Doyle's article on renting software and viewing software as a service, (Computer Weekly, 7 March). I think the whole evolution of the software market is throwing most suppliers into very interesting times.

As the market matures, IT has shifted from being viewed as a competitive advantage to being seen as an embedded part of the business. I can't think of any large corporate whose core business does not rely on IT in some shape or form. Customers are now looking to suppliers to share more of the risk, but the real question is who should own the risk?

IT is now so complex and pervasive that there are normally multiple suppliers involved in any IT roll-out. Interoperability is one of the core requirements. But when problems arise, the ownership question inevitably raises its ugly head.

Added to this is the fact that customers have moved into an instant gratification era. They want their problems to be resolved quickly. I suspect that a lot of suppliers still focus on response times rather than outcomes and resolution.

That's why we are a member of the Technical Alliance Support Network (TSANet). TSANet connects support communities on a global or local stage. It allows supplier-to-supplier support collaboration within the IT industry. I firmly believe that this is the only effective way of addressing customer problems. But I welcome readers' views.

Colin Hughes, Senior manager, Symantec and chairman of TSANet Europe


IT needs to step up to the plate for datacentres

Cliff Saran's article detailing the perpetual conflict between IT and facilities management departments over control of the datacentre made interesting reading (Computer Weekly, 21 March). What must be asked is: when the datacentre is now the heart of many businesses, why are IT directors still failing to step up to the plate and take full ownership of this environment?

To prevent classic buck-passing, organisations must stamp out divided responsibility for the computing environment. IT directors must be accountable for the datacentre as well as the hardware, software and infrastructure, so they can start to do the job they are paid to do.

The modern computer environment has become so specialist that it needs looking after by people who understand exactly how computer racks and server arrays need to be cooled, what humidity ranges are appropriate, and what the effect of adding another piece of equipment will have on the overall balance of the area.

If IT directors are to guarantee the integrity and availability of the data and systems that they are entrusted with, then it stands to reason that ownership of the IT environment must also come under the same remit. Otherwise the overall service delivery will be compromised, putting the whole business at severe risk.

IT directors everywhere will be failing in their duty if they attempt to offer any service guarantees without first demanding, and then accepting, control and responsibility for the IT environment.

Paul Elliott, Managing director future-tech


How well does security travel in offshore age?

The recent article "Ensuring data doesn't leave with your staff" and related news in brief "Lost HP laptop prompts identity fraud fears" (Computer Weekly, 28 March) highlight the ease with which data can be taken/stolen when many services are contracted out to third parties, necessitating data sharing across company boundaries. The controls in place are not sufficient to handle this, as so often economy takes priority over security.

Recent concerns expressed about the handling of business process outsourcing data, now either housed or accessed by companies in countries which have a history of corruption and black market economies, is clearly the area being overlooked because it pays to do so.

Assurances by the UK Information Commission sound hollow to anyone who has worked in those locations. Breaches of security/illegal activity are routine, but also routinely covered up because it is in their own best interest to do so.  Let's get real - data security in these situations is laughable.

Randal Frankwick, Senior analyst/programmer Vertex WebTech


Shared services need a staged approach

Ian Watmore's plans to push local authorities into mandatory shared services (Computer Weekly, 7 March) is not the way to move towards large-scale integration.

The vision of many councils sharing services sounds incredibly attractive, but in order to deliver these benefits in practice, a staged approach must be developed. The focus should be on ensuring that the implementation of this technology takes into account any technical, organisational and political issues that will inevitably arise. The joint effort should be emphasised to allay any "takeover fears", otherwise not all parties will buy in to the ideas, leading to unfinished projects and inevitable overspending.

Deploying infrastructures that support existing applications, as well as offer the opportunity to integrate new shared systems, is a critical factor. This creates a level playing field for all participants, but allows councils to remain as individuals until they're ready to become fully involved.

Shared services will ultimately drive down costs, but rush the implementation now and it could prove costly. We cannot afford to create suspicion within councils and risk resistance to technical applications or delays in getting the new systems up and running.

Colin Reid, Chief executive Consilium Technologies


What happens to my validation if I fail to pay?

I often read articles quoting BCS members as though their BCS membership was some form of recognition of their professional capabilities, technical knowledge or industry experience.

When discussed with other IT professionals, they are often unwilling to attempt membership because of what they see as a difficult membership process involving exams and tests to prove that you are up to the BCS standard. And yet, if you are no longer able to afford the yearly subscription, you are no longer eligible to retain the letters MBCS after your name.

I can understand that membership privileges are revoked - their provision and administration costs money, but apparently, no longer being able to pay an annual membership fee means that your professional equivalence is no longer valid.

Oh dear - I wish I hadn't rolled my convertible on the M6 now.

Stuart Learmonth, MBCS (until 6 June)


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