SmartAdvice: Update Software And Train Users To Help Stop Plague Of E-Mail Viruses
Up-to-date antivirus software is important to stop spam and malicious software, but user training is just as critical, The Advisory Council says. Also, don't let Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft scare you off, and the time for considering voice over IP is getting nearer as large vendors invest in the technology.
Question B: Oracle seems determined to follow through on its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, even in the face of Justice Department opposition. Does this change your advice from Nov. 24, 2003?
Our advice: Our advice hasn't changed.
Oracle has struggled for years to develop and market applications software. It has made several false starts, which have left many companies with substandard software. In some cases, IT leaders who believed Oracle's claims have lost their jobs.
Oracle's current actions should be interpreted in this context. It has known for years that, to expand revenue, it needs to successfully market applications products. SAP and PeopleSoft have created substantial companies in this space, while Oracle still struggles to gain traction.
We believe that Oracle is trying to freeze the market with its bid to buy PeopleSoft. We expect that it is still trying to create its own alternative products. This type of move wouldn't surprise us based on its past actions.
In either case, I wouldn't defer purchasing from PeopleSoft, or for that matter from another competitive vendor. If Oracle acts as it did in the past, it will take them several years to sort everything out. You have to support the needs of your business today to get to tomorrow. Don't freeze like a deer in Oracle's headlights.
Question C: Is voice-over-IP ready for "prime time" (as a replacement for plain-old telephone service, not just intracompany use)? What factors should we consider in making a VoIP decision?
Our advice: While voice-over-IP has great potential for cost reduction, the technology isn't yet mature. Now that major voice carriers such as AT&T are entering the voice-over-IP field, it's inevitable that VoIP will be the communication system of the future. Such entrants are putting serious money and research into the technology, which will lead to significant improvement in the coming year.
Voice-over-IP is still plagued by dropped packets during periods of heavy traffic. Unlike TCP/IP data traffic, which merely slows down when facing congestion, voice packets get lost, resulting in distinct gaps in the signal. This has a similar audible effect to using a digital cell phone with a weak signal. Current VoIP service isn't as reliable as switched systems, which makes it ill-suited for business-critical use.
Such problems are, however, exactly the kind of issues that investment from major communications providers will resolve. We recommend that you wait until the major telecomm carriers launch their voice-over-IP programs before making the switch from your current service.
Peter Schay, TAC executive VP and chief operating officer, has 30 years of experience as a senior IT executive in IT vendor and research industries. He was most recently VP and chief technology officer of SiteShell Corp. Previously at Gartner, he was group VP of global research infrastructure and support, and launched coverage of client/server computing in the early 1990s.
Alan Guibord, TAC chairman, CEO, and founder, has more than 25 years of experience leading IT organizations as CIO with both Fortune 100 companies and small to midsize businesses. Guibord has served as VP and CIO of Fort James Corp., VP of information technology at R.R. Donnelley & Sons, CIO of PictureTel, and VP of MIS and administrative services at Timeplex.
Andrew Schay, TAC Expert, is a programmer and Web designer with more than five years experience as an independent consultant doing project work for small businesses and private clients. He now works full-time for TAC as a system administrator and as an expert specializing in Web-systems integration and consumer needs.
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