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More, Better, And Even More

Go ahead, be the glass-half-empty kind of person. Look at all that IT has made possible and dwell on the limitations. That's the kind of restless dissatisfaction that drove a lot of news last week. EBay? Not good enough, not until we can search deeper and compare more prices. Medical data sharing? It's just starting to show promise at regional levels, but we need national data exchanges. Security and server and network reliability can always be improved. Even emerging technology such as RFID is
HP Has Itanium On The Brain
It was bring in the new, usher out the old at Hewlett-Packard last week.

The company continued its strategy of migrating its high-performance servers to Itanium processors when it introduced the first NonStop system based on the Intel processor architecture. And it stuck firm to its plan to drop PA-RISC chips, disclosing availability of its last PA-RISC-based server.

HP's effort to persuade customers to switch from HP systems based on Mips and PA-RISC processors to ones based on Itanium hasn't been a runaway hit. But its statement that it will offer Integrity NonStop by July shows its commitment. HP isn't doing internal development of the Itanium processor anymore, leaving that to Intel, but says it plans to invest about $3 billion during the next three years to improve system-level design, software, and services to support Itanium-based server lines. "We're providing good value [by enticing] customers to move to Integrity NonStop," says John Miller, director of portfolio marketing for enterprise servers and storage at HP.

Integrity NonStop servers aren't for the meek: The first will scale up to 4,080 Itanium 2 processors, and the price tag begins at around $400,000.

-- Darrell Dunn


RFID Readers Up Their Smarts
RFID tag readers play a critical role in radio-frequency ID strategies, but as far as technologies go, they're not that thrilling. They pick up signals from RFID tags and transmit the data to applications sitting elsewhere.

Well, get ready for a whole new genre of "intelligent" RFID readers with much more important jobs. Symbol Technologies Inc.'s XR400, to be rolled out this week, runs the Windows CE mobile operating system, which will let customers use applications such as inventory management in retail warehouses and baggage tracking in airports, eliminating the need for a server or PC to do that job. Symbol is talking with software companies about porting their applications to Windows CE to enable that, says Justin Hotard, director of RFID market development at Symbol. But Hotard expects some customers will build custom applications for the reader.

ADT Security Services Inc. expects to release a reader in August with enough intelligence so work still gets done even if a connected network fails. Software will collect, buffer, and store more than 10,000 files, the typical amount of data an RFID reader collects in a day.

The common goal of intelligent readers is speed. Says Randy Dunn, national sales and marking director for RFID at ADT: "Slowing the supply chain even milliseconds matters when you have a highly choreographed network."

-- Mary Hayes and Laurie Sullivan


Hilton Takes On Travel Sites
Hilton Hotels Corp. is tightening the screws on online travel agencies with an accreditation process that sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity must conform to by the end of the year in order to sell Hilton rooms.

The chain won't allow practices such as travel sites purchasing search keywords that divert traffic from Hilton .com sites or undercutting Hilton's online prices. It's not an effort to cut those sites out, Hilton says. "Anybody who can abide by our terms is free to compete," says Bala Subramanian, senior VP of distribution and brand integration.

Many chains are getting more customers to buy direct, avoiding the commissions to third parties. Direct bookings at Hilton.com sites are up 30% year over year and make up 14% of all bookings, Subramanian says, whereas third-party site bookings grew in the single digits and represent less than 2% of the chain's bookings.

-- Tony Kontzer


What You Really Care About
INtel and TiVo are planning to improve their "TiVo To Go" program so that customers can wirelessly download television programming to Centrino notebooks, Sean Maloney, executive VP and general manager of Intel's mobile platforms group, said at the company's wireless and mobile conference in San Francisco last week. That could make it that much easier for TiVo customers to take their TV programs with them on the road.

The big question: Do you really want to watch Lost while flying on a plane?

-- Darrell Dunn

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing