Your shout! On gender-based recruitment in IT

In response to Steve Shuttleworth's comments about female-oriented IT recruitment drives

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On gender-based recruitment in IT

In response to Steve Shuttleworth's comments about female-oriented IT recruitment drives

I find it amusing that both Computer Weekly and the Nursing Standard are discussing gender-based recruitment drives.

After 20 years in IT my husband is half way through re-training to be a nurse. He recently had a letter published in the Nursing Standard contributing to its discussion about male-dominated and female-dominated occupations.

He says he much prefers working in a female-dominated occupation. He is also enjoying working with people, not being tied to a desk, having some real responsibility and being out of the City. He recommends nursing to anyone thinking of a career change from IT.

Anyway, why would encouraging more male primary school teachers be such a bad thing?

Miriam Bromnick

On the managed security services market

In response to the comments about regulations increasing the demand for outsourced IT security services (Computer Weekly, 21 September)

Reducing the threat to corporate assets is a major issue, but understanding the technologies, risks and vulnerabilities is a task that most businesses are not up to. Companies do not want to take on extra staff to meet governance requirements, but a managed service provider can take the strain of security and allow a company's staff to become more productive.

It is not just a case of having a tick in the box with regard to the security aspect of compliance. IT managers want to feel some comfort from the fact that their business will not go down through poor network design and has the bonus of making them compliant at the same time.

However, services which are not up to scratch can make the situation worse, with a poor security implementation instilling a false sense of security and create a greater risk than if no security was implemented at all.

The industry needs something like a Gartner Magic Quadrant which will clearly define those companies which lead the way in best practice and with proven security services.

Andrew Mason, managing director, Boxing Orange

On the pros and cons ofusing open browsers

In response to the news that users are seeking an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer (Computer Weekly, 21 September)

It would seem that Microsoft has embedded its browser deep into the internet by the way that it constructs web pages.

The World Wide Web Consortium develops standards to ensure that web browsers construct a web page in the same way, ensuring compatibility between browsers.

The visible problems arise when Internet Explorer constructs a page that is based on more than just HTML. When loading Cascading Style Sheets, Internet Explorer can misalign text and graphics making the page construction appear to be broken. Scripting languages like Javascript are also a problem.

As Internet Explorer is used by the overwhelming majority of internet users, most web designers create websites to display correctly in Internet Explorer.

Now firms are waking up to the security risks in Internet Explorer and are taking a look at the total cost of ownership for the Microsoft platform.

Other browsers such as Mozilla and Firefox are secure, comply directly with the W3C standards and are not affected by the ever increasing exploits that leave computers open to spyware, malware and viruses.

Some web pages designed for Internet Explorer may not display correctly in other browsers. But in a world with malicious code around every corner, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Matthew Saunders, systems and infrastructure technical support, Writtle College

Whatever happened to the service ethic?

One paragraph in your article on the Inland Revenue's security lessons (Computer Weekly, 28 September) summed up what is wrong with public and private service providers in today's commercial climate: "One supplier did not have proper back-up processes in place. Instead it took out insurance against penalty clauses from the Inland Revenue should service be disrupted".

Suppliers and service providers can now deliberately avoid the cost of providing sufficient resources to maintain an agreed level of service. Instead they can make financial arrangements to cover the penalties when they are caught out. The end-result is a drop in the level of service and the people who suffer are the customer, taxpayer, railway passenger or the patient.

Every issue of Computer Weekly includes at least one article about the national programme for IT in the NHS with the mention every time of the £2.3bn pot.

What about improved patient care? What about the ability to access a patient's medical records instantly at any hospital, instead of relying on tatty, brown, overfilled envelopes being lost in the post? What about the improved efficiency in the NHS, and the return to it being the best health service in the world?

Perhaps Computer Weekly could start a new campaign, to put the word service back into service$ (the $ is deliberate).

Peter J Hill, manager, Unisys EMEA technical marketing support

Get structure right for outsourcing to work

So JP Morgan is taking its operations back in-house (Computer Weekly, 28 September). This does not spell the end for outsourcing.

What it does reflect is that many deals structured in the 1990s were often guinea-pig efforts with companies testing the water in IT outsourcing. If structured badly, outsourcing relationships can end in disaster, but the National Outsourcing Association figures show that about 97% of all outsourcing contracts are renewed with their original supplier.

Outsourcing is not just a new fashion. Companies should be doing what is good for the business and know why they are doing it.

There are key constants that are important however you deliver company services. The NOA produces a toolkit that outlines these considerations. Insourcing and outsourcing are both types of service provision, so aspects such as relationship management, processes and service level agreements are all important.

Taking the time to get organisational sourcing strategy right in the first place can help stop their selected method going belly up further down the line.

Seize the time>>

Martyn Hart, chairman, National Outsourcing Association

Open, identity-aware web services offset risk

I agree with Gartner analyst Victor Wheatman's suggestion that "the best defence is a good offence" with regard to security risks associated with web services (Computer Weekly, 21 September). However, if companies build silos shielded by firewalls and security systems, they will distance themselves from partners and customers.

While the fundamentals for web services are based on open standards, the higher up in the protocol stack you go, the more likely you are to encounter proprietary specifications in certain suppliers' offerings, affecting our ability to manage interoperability and security costs effectively.

Identity is another crucial security issue. The recent increase in online identity thefts and credit card fraud is dampening the growth of e-commerce.

Liberty Alliance is working to provide identity-based, secure standards for open specifications in the connected world. We urge companies to manage identity and ensure the products they choose are built on open, secure and identity-aware specifications. Only through truly open standards will security stop being a problem that is defended by a single company and become a challenge that can be proactively tackled by organisations working together.

Bjorn Wigforss, vice -president, Liberty Alliance

Weigh the risk in web services against benefit

With regard to Bill Goodwin's piece on web services and risk (Computer Weekly, 21 September), it is true that the standards around web services do not yet cover security, but nor do they cover business process management or fail-over.

Only the interoperability layer is well covered by standards. The other layers, such as security, web services data transformation or BPM are not covered by standards. It is important that firms embarking on web services projects deploy infrastructures delivering alternative ways to implement web services security.

The current immaturity of web service security should not be a deterrent for starting web services projects. Many of the benefits of web services projects are from re-building an organisation's architecture as a service-oriented one, for which web services can play an important communication role.

Oliver Barbe, WebMethods

CRM is not just blanket mailshots

Sally Whittle's article on data quality highlighted the fact that cold CRM systems are doing little to further relationships with customers (Computer Weekly, 21 September). Traditional CRM systems do not enable organisations to create the bond with customers that is required to attain long-term loyalty and increase lifetime customer value.

Customers need to be treated as members, not just revenue providers. Unfortunately contact management does not enable the required level of involvement and customer commitment.

Firms need an integrated record management system that combines events, case management, income and even website interaction. This provides the focused information that enables the delivery of usefully tailored services.

Trevor Cole, business development director, ProTech Computer Systems

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