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Virtualisation makes business sense

Martin Courtney seems to have missed the point when he dismisses virtualisation as becoming insignificant now that servers are cheaper and more powerful (Will virtualisation gain wider appeal, 26 November). No matter how cheap and powerful processors have become, current applications cannot harness the power of multi-core chips, whereas virtualisation can. Courtney seems to be blinkered by power and performance.

Our firm runs about 20 servers and nearly all of them are virtualised. Yes, they are marginally slower than running servers native, but we in the IT department can sleep at night in the full knowledge that should a server fail, we can resurrect it in minutes using any hardware available. Key servers have software failover using virtualisation at the heart of the process. As far as disaster recovery and business continuity are concerned, virtualisation is the only way forward for most small to medium companies. Clustering servers or using hardware failover is not an economic option.

Simon Hewitt

December 19, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

People must own their IDs

In your article on ID cards alternatives, UK Biometrics said that its solution would “help eliminate fraud as well as giving the ownership of data to the individual” (Alternatives to ID cards put forward, 26 November). While I am not sure about that claim in this example, ownership and control of personal identity seems to be at the heart of what we should be concerned about in relation to the HMRC data breach incident and ID cards plans.

I would certainly begin to have some sympathy with the idea mentioned here if in authenticating my ID using the card, the data grabbed by the card reader was either a small randomised portion of my biometric data or, better still, a hash of a small portion.

Whatever is in place has to protect individuals from accident and abuse by legitimate users as well as illegal ones. We must not allow the government to come into the position of owning and controlling what is essentially ours. It is the old “servants of the people, not servants of the state” argument.


December 19, 2007 in Public policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

The state can not be trusted

Most of us who object to the government’s ID cards scheme find fault with the database rather than the card (Alternatives to ID cards put forward, 26 November).

A “self-checking” card that does not need access to a database is to be preferred, provided that the terminal device does not keep records of cards it has verified. If you give confidential information to the government and they store it in a database you might as well publish it on YouTube.

Simon Evans

December 19, 2007 in Public policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to get Office 2003

Given his comments about finding it difficult to purchase copies of Microsoft Office 2003, Peter Williams may like to know that it is possible to install Office 2003 in place of Office 2007 using “downgrade” rights (Letters, 3 December). That is, if he buys 30 retail copies of Office 2007 Standard he can actually install 30 copies of Office 2003 Standard. As long as it is a retail version, I believe this also applies to products purchased through a volume licence scheme such as Open or Select.

The only situation where I believe you cannot use “downgrade” rights is when using OEM versions of Microsoft Office.

Dave Sharp, Senior Network Engineer, ChoiceQuote

December 19, 2007 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

I’ll believe it when I see it

So, Virgin is promising us 50Mbit/s broadband in the very near future (UK broadband to reach 50Mbit/s, 3 December)? Perhaps while they are at it, they could also concentrate on improving my so-called “XL” 20Mbit/s service, which for the past two weeks has achieved at best a heady 750kbit/s downstream, and has never exceeded 8Mbit/s on tests.

Andy Leates, ICT Support Manager

December 19, 2007 in Communications | Permalink | Comments (0)

The trouble with thin-client computing

In last week’s issue, Daniel Robinson introduced us to yet another thin client, sorry, Smart Client (Smart Client takes on the might of the desktop PC, 10 December). Having spent nearly three years trialling such devices, I believe Cranberry has made the same mistake as every other thin client manufacturer – trying to convince us that XP Embedded is a thin client operating system.

I do not want an additional deployment system to manage and control the devices on my network; I am comfortable with Active Directory and the control it gives me. What I need is XP Embedded to play ball with the rest of my Microsoft infrastructure, submit to the same controls XP does, update from the same central server that XP does, and maybe even run the same anti-virus suite – and cost less than a PC.

I doubt Microsoft will ever make XP Embedded a worthy thin client OS, perhaps because of vested interests in the PC market. Manufacturers will have to work harder to make “thin” work. If I wanted local apps I would buy PCs, but I want control not power. We also conducted trials with Linux and CE.Net, but while very good I need to change some of the tools, not the whole tool box.

Justin Miller, IT manager

December 17, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will Apple kill off the mouse?

I have an iPod Touch – the iPhone needs 3G and unlocking for me – with the Safari browser, and I agree with your article 100 per cent (Browsing may never be the same again, 10 December). The web browser is very workable and I prefer it at home as well. The whole touch interface is a superb innovation. It also poses the question: will we see an iMac next year with a touch-flow interface?

Wow, a computer with no need for a keyboard or mouse. I think it is coming and I think Apple will bring it on next year.

Tim Smith

December 17, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sure-fire cure for Office ills

In response to Peter Williams’ letter (Bring back Office 2003, 3 December), rather than struggle to get Microsoft to change its ways, there is of course a much easier solution – dump Microsoft Office altogether and switch over to an open-source alternative such as OpenOffice.

Unless users are very sophisticated, open-source alternatives such as OpenOffice give them everything they need without the risk of being pushed into expensive upgrades, which give the vast majority of users little or no added benefit. If more Microsoft customers used their feet rather than just their voices, Microsoft might just get the message.

David Unwin, The Delcaro Consultancy

December 17, 2007 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Enum’s days are numbered

Despite welcoming that Nominet has won the race to be the UK’s registry for Enum, fewer and fewer people are actually making calls by dialling a number (Spec eases VoIP adoption, 26 November). It is therefore essential that the industry as a whole takes a step back and asks whether this standard is really the way forward.

Increasingly, office workers dial by name and directories using communications systems integrated into the phone system, while on our mobiles we select names from our address books. This means numbers are less important for users than the identifying metadata tags such as names and nicknames associated with them.

Yet, in a not-too-distant future where fully converged, unified communications hold sway, we will find ourselves making phone calls, and sending emails and instant messages all using the same address. This scenario, which is within touching distance, consigns Enum to being nothing more than a sidelined transitional standard as we swiftly progress from the old world of calling by number to the new world of calling by name.

Simon Paton, CommuniGate

December 17, 2007 in Communications | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to make IT more attractive to women

To continue to provide first-class IT services to UK businesses, it is critical for IT companies to attract and retain the brightest talent available (The IT sector is still failing women, 21 November). Yet there is evidently still an unwillingness across the industry to accept that one of the biggest handicaps is the failure to attract significant numbers of women and to tackle the outdated prejudices surrounding the roles of IT staff.

Of course, it is important not to underestimate the role that schools and colleges can play in encouraging young people to consider technology qualifications. But, with some notable exceptions, little has been done by IT firms to tackle this problem. 

Just as other sectors that used to be male dominated – like accountancy, law or medicine – have taken positive steps to attract more women, IT firms need to follow suit. What is required is a far more imaginative approach to attracting women into the industry, such as designing a flexible working structure.

Mark MacGregor, Connect Support Services

December 5, 2007 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (1)

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