An Enterprise Wish List for 2006
Published: January 10, 2006
by Robert Rosen
The programmers, administrators, and managers at large enterprises have returned from the holiday season and are back at work again. Having made their personal wish lists late last year and received many of their desires during the holidays, enterprise shops now have some professional wants and needs they want to get fulfilled, including advancements in open software technology, identity management, and a portable electronic newspaper, among others.
As president of SHARE, the largest association of enterprises that use IBM technologies to support their applications, I get involved in lots of dialogues with my peers. Over the past year, I have collected a list of the most wanted product and service enhancements my fellow SHARE members are seeking not only from Big Blue, but from all IT vendors. Rather than concentrate on what new features they want in current products, I asked my peers what they needed from IT vendors to address their more painful problems. Here, in no particular order, is the SHARE wish list for 2006:
- Relief from the abuses of IP-based applications, including email spam, phishing, and viruses; instant message abuse by spim; and peer-to-peer file sharing. Don't give us a bolt-on solution like spam filters. Deliver real progress in building a network protocol environment providing accountability without unacceptably compromising confidentiality.
- Improve identity management as a key that may yield improved results in networking. In particular, the number one wish for relief from spam attacks may come true if users know with certainty the sender of an IP packet. But there's still the need to maintain confidentiality. Naturally, such improvements must work in a heterogeneous environment.
- Build a standards-based distributed file system that is scalable, high performance, secure, manageable and referenced by a single name space. DCE/DFS had most of these capabilities, but is no longer supported by any vendor. While open AFS may be the future strategy, development is still needed. IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) provides a high performance file system that might be made more secure via NFSv4 access. A meta-data control engine might also provide some name space resolution help before 2006 is over.
- Provide truly interoperable calendaring capabilities that will allow easier collaboration among colleagues working at different campuses. These should be reliable, standards-based, and enable calendar synchronization with PDAs, cell phones, etc.
- Deliver far longer-lasting batteries or replacements so that battery-powered devices can run for days without a recharge.
- Create easier-to-use open source software, ensuring that the software and distributions are enterprise-worthy during installation, operation, and administration. For instance, a Linux distribution needs to install correctly with all drivers including video, sound and peripherals and arriving perfect out-of-the-box. Oh, a good flash drive version of Linux would be nice, too.
- Produce a simple-to-implement ssh version of remote desktop for corporate access from the Internet.
- Provide free wireless access at all airports.
- Ensure easier server consolidation. After a few years of unabated growth of our server farms, the cost of maintaining the software and hardware upgrades necessitates easier server consolidation.
- Demonstrate excellent proof of value and easier implementation of Service Oriented Architectures. What are the cost benefits and best ways to achieve those benefits? Give us the information we need to prove there really are benefits.
- Help us meet future networking requirements in a cost sustainable way. This is especially applicable within advanced organizations and research groups.
- Encourage more cooperation between vendors and research institutions to enable cooperative initiatives for early testing of new technologies. IBM's PowerPC "Cell" processor is an example. It will be available in Play Station 3 this year, yet begs for research on how to use it in HPC and other environments. Adoption will be slowed by lack of exposure in research environments. Such cooperation can answer key questions: How can key research applications work on the Cell processor? What other applications might users find for the Cell processor?
- Build a standards-based data reference model which allows users to share, by reference, portions of an enterprise's data. Further the idea of separating the display of enterprise data from the data itself so that users can point to it (perhaps in an email) and enable these displays across all device types.
- Find ways to make more intelligent use of Digital Rights Management. Everyone recognizes that intellectual property needs protection, but current schemes punish the innocent and don't deter the guilty. This affects IT professionals who are trying to do the right thing.
And finally, here are five non-traditional yearnings from the 2006 wish lists of my fellow SHARE members:
- Given all the mandated activities of the past few years (e.g., SOX, new technologies), give enterprise-class users a breather to fully incorporate and absorb all the changes we're dealing with. When people get further and further behind, they tend to skip two or three upgrades, potentially leaving security holes and problems for vendors. A breather will help everyone absorb it all.
- Help us properly integrate newer capabilities such as RSS, podcasts, and blogs into the standard ways our companies run our businesses. This isn't easy, since these types of communication relate more to individuals than company processes. With the next generation of IT professionals coming aboard, solving the problem of letting the individual tailor his or her experience within ongoing company policies and processes is a problem needing an answer.
- Create the next generation electronic newspaper. Imagine a device that is large enough for anyone to read (like the 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper). Maybe add a grayscale display (or color, if not too expensive) that is flexible (liked a rolled up newspaper) and has intelligence to accept subscriptions, payments, and archive the contents for offline reading all of an individual's news feeds and documentation.
- Apply much more ingenuity to servers. Most new IT professionals are accustomed to growing up with extremely interactive (i.e., "hands-on") hardware platforms. If we hope (and expect) to grow the IT industry and keep IT popular (i.e., ensuring a continuing influx of personnel), then we need to encourage the hardware vendors to apply that same ingenuity to servers that is used in the desktop world. I am not saying that we want the ability to "reboot the mainframe at the drop of a hat." Once, you could watch the lights blinking on and off and pretty much make an assessment of system status. I realize this isn't possible today. But somehow, vendors and users working together need to discover ways to keep the IT professional team interested in system performance at a time when the CPU is cruising along at a zillion MIPS and your task is completed before you've poured that second cup of coffee.
- Support and encourage attendance at SHARE and other conferences, where people get perspectives from people just like them and in doing so, gain from those in the trenches and recognize the value.
Robert Rosen is president of SHARE. He is also CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. SHARE is an independent, volunteer run association providing more than 2,000 of IBM's top enterprise customers with user focused education, professional networking and industry influence, representing more than 20,000 individual computing specialists.