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Weighing up the hidden costs of convergence
I agree with your article saying that VoIP was designed for a trusting world and that current technology for securing it is immature (Computer Weekly, 2 May).
But the argument about whether it is cost effective is a hard one to call. Dropping in VoIP without security gives minimum cost but maximum risk. But putting in a security solution will cost you. Plus, the set-ups can be complicated and people who are both security and VoIP-savvy are thin on the ground.
VoIP behaves differently from most IP traffic, so it is more susceptible to certain kinds of attack. This is something the article doesn’t really go into, other than the fact that people might develop viruses to capture VoIP traffic.
Security is not just about confidentiality; integrity and availability come into it as well. Confidentiality and integrity are understood for existing IP traffic and there are existing techniques that can be deployed for VoIP.
Keeping VoIP available introduces new challenges, which is where many problems are likely to show up. VoIP is much more sensitive to network characteristics such as latency.
If everything goes over IP, you will have problems if anything disrupts your networks. That is not a reason not to converge, it is a reason to understand the risks, build them into your cost model and either accept them or pay more and do something about it.
VoIP within your own Lan is one thing. As you follow its logical progression, and push it out to partners and customers over networks that are out of your control, you are entering a much more exposed world.
Rhodri Davies, technical architect, Vistorm
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Shared services projects should start small
I am writing regarding your article “Cabinet Office sets target on public shared services” (Computer Weekly, 4 April).
The public sector is starting to recognise the benefits of sharing back-office functions. Although it is encouraging to see the Cabinet Office supporting this, there is indeed a need to express caution when formal standards are set and a political framework established.
Large scale shared services projects will be hard to get off the ground, due to existing supplier contracts that have not yet expired, sunk cost investment that has not yet reached end of life and the public sector procurement process.
If shared services projects, as advocated in the Transformational Government Implementation Plan, are to be successful quickly, they need to be flexible, agile and adaptable. The implementation plan should encourage smaller local initiatives that can grow, sharing more services over time.
A proliferation of smaller projects may provide yet another impediment to large scale projects but what is better: impose the unachievable or encourage the quick win?
David Blundell, chief operating officer, Netstore
Why 75% should not be the pass mark for IT
I read the title of your article “IT’s business value is on the rise, say CIOs” (Computer Weekly, 9 May) with optimism. Many of the statistics provided were fairly reflective of the industry at large.
However, is the fact that only 75% of IT directors feel that their board understands the importance of IT really that encouraging? Should our industry be satisfied when one in four businesses does not recognise its value?
Evidence from The Standish Group, which found that 70% of software projects are considered unsuccessful, seems to reinforce the way in which percentages of failure are considered acceptable in IT. Is there any other industry sector in which such a high level of failure is tolerated or accepted?
The biggest challenge for all IT heads is to bring IT projects in line with the successes of other business functions. Only then will IT get the board-level recognition and appreciation it so deserves.
Paul Taylor, Borland
IT must be incorporated into the business ethos
It’s great to see that in most cases the board is felt to have a good understanding of IT (Computer Weekly, 9 May). However, as over a third of CIOs say end-users are failing to keep them updated on changing business requirements, it appears that this understanding is sorely lacking at grass roots level.
IT staff are under growing pressure to achieve ROI within increasingly contracted timeframes, but ROI will only be realised if business planning incorporates IT from the start.
IT staff need to work with the board to ensure technology strategy is incorporated into the organisation’s ethos, to avoid playing catch-up for eternity.
Richard Hall, CTO UK, Avanade
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