Mark Roberti: RFID. [an IT
Conversation] Mark provides an in-depth introduction to Radio
Frequency ID tags--the hottest, new, but 50 year-old technology.
Why has it taken so long? Mark says it's been the high cost and
lack of standards. (Passive tags cost as little as US$0.06, but
only if you buy 500,000,000 of them. More typically, expect to pay
US$0.40-US$0.50, or US$10.00 or more for active tags.)
Wal-Mart's RFID experiments have been in the news lately (mostly
in reports of privacy concerns), but Mark says the press mangled
the story, and he sets the record straight. More recently, the U.S.
Department of Defense announced
it expects its 26,000 suppliers to use RFID tags beginning as early
as January 2005.
In this interview we dig into the privacy concerns that have been raised regarding RFID usage, and look at some of the more unusual successful RFID deployments such as how the Scottish Courage brewery tagged its kegs and thereby saved US$14 million--enough to fund the acquisition of another brewery.
Mark wraps up with his analysis of the obstacles that remain for the widespread deployment of RFID, the timeframe over which it will occur, and his recommendations for how to track the evolution of this technology.
[Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. Previously he was a senior writer at the Industry Standard and served as managing editor of Information Week. Mark has reported on business and technology for major publications worldwide since 1985. His work has appeared in Business 2.0, Fortune, The Asian Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, and the New York Times.]
Posted Friday, October 24, 2003 8:01:17
Parenty: Digital Defense. [an IT
Conversation] Tom Parenty's mission is to create a common language
with which techies and managers can discuss the security of business
activities. He has been a computer scientist with the U.S. National
Security Agency, and since the mid-1980s held security-related positions
in the software industry before going independent four years ago.
He has testified before a number of US House of Representatives
and Senate Committees, and has a new book just out entitled Digital
Defense, What You Should Know About Protecting Your Company's Assets.
Tom sees two trends that demand this collaboration: that organizations are sharing more information, and that they're doing so without the traditional human intermediaries that act as filters. Traditional security, he says, is designed to "protect the good folks inside from the bad folks outside." But the "line between insider and outsider is becoming increasingly blurred."
And just how do you protect your data once it's out of your control?
It's not easy, he says. "Knowing that a company has a firewall and
uses virus protection doesn't provide any meaningful information
about how safe it is to conduct business with that firm over the
Internet." Tom also explains how to think of security as an enabling
technology. "If you want to find opportunities in which information
security can promote innovation, focus on removing limitations of
time, locale, and scale."
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2003 9:45:09
Coupled--Now Available as a PDF (at a 63% Discount)
As an alternative to the hardcopy edition, you can now download
my latest book in PDF format at a substantial discount using PayPal
or BitPass. From the time you
purchase the eBook version, you have 7 days during which you can
download the content up to 10 times. The PDF files can be printed,
but the text cannot be copied or modified.
Amazon.com Review of the Week:
book provides an excellent explanation of why companies should
be looking at Web services. It approaches the topic with an
honest and straightforward description of the problem space
Web services are targeted to address and the characteristics/short
comings of those technologies as they exist today and as they
are expected to evolve. Perfect for IT decision makers who
are evaluating how/where Web services fit in their corporate
--James Snell, IBM, author Programming
Web Services with SOAP
more Amazon.com reviews.)
Federated Identity and PingID. The Digital ID World conference
in Denver last week was great--more so for meeting the other attendees
than the sessions. They keynote presentations were excellent however.
In this article, Dan Farber of ZDNet tells us what he valued at
the conference, including (CTO of General Motors) Tony Scott's excellent
keynote presentation about his company's project to use the Liberty
Alliance specifications to extend GM's employee portal to allow
access to external benefits providers, worldwide. It turned out
to be much more complex than anticipated and took far longer.
On a related panel, Jamie Lewis, CEO of Burton Group, expressed an opinion that Liberty Alliance and the competing WS-Federation spec were separated more by politics than by architectural differences.
Dan also had a chance to speak with Andre Durand of Ping Identity, recently funded by Jeremy Allaire of General Catalyst Partners. I hope to speak with Andre in an upcoming edition of IT Conversations.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 5:19:59
CIO Magazine's Hype. Phil Wainewright said it well in his
Coupled weblog: "It suits journalists to present the standards
process as a bitter struggle fought by unscrupulous vendors. But
sometimes their imagination gets the better of them."
This article by Executive Editor Christopher Koch gives an alarmist
and, in some cases, incorrect view of the web-services standards
scene. He wrote, for example, "No fewer than four organizations--Liberty
Alliance, Oasis, W3C and WS-I--are vying to preside over the process,
each with different goals, each with differing degrees of power
But it's way off track. Liberty and WS-I, for instance, have very
unique charters that don't overlap the other bodies in any substantive
way. Unfortunately, when a widely-read magazine like CIO gets it
wrong about something I know, I find I have to question what they
report about things that are less familiar to me.
But Phil goes so far as to write, "The truth of the matter, I
fear, is that CIOs don't actually want the standards process to
succeed." He must be speaking to a set of very different CIOs than
the ones I meet with. Without exception, the CIOs I know want web-services
There have been a few interesting follow-ups to this. As Phil
pointed out, David
Chappell, who was interviewed for the article, has posted a
response to clarify his position. Other posted comments include
those from Jonathan
My take is that the web-services standards process is proceeding
reasonably well given the inherent competitive and political pressures.
Perhaps people are reacting to the fact that they're watching so
much of the process, as they would by taking a tour of a sausage
factory. (i.e., More than you want to see.)
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 2:15:52
Code Reuse and SOAs. In the most recent ZapFlash newsletter,
analyst Jason Bloomberg discussed the implications of code re-use
on web services and vice versa. I know there's some good stuff in
there, but I wish Jason would give us some specific examples. Without
them, it's just feel-good, nod-yes kinda stuff. ZapThink is hosting
an all-day seminar
in New York on Tuesday. If I were in NYC this week, I'd be there
in a ZapFlash.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 4:59:35
SCO vs. Linux. "The strategy is familiar: Buy up an old
bit of code, and turn it into a goldmine." This is a reasonably
objective analysis by Lane Anderson in Connect Magazine. I knew
Ransom Love, the former CEO of SCO, during his days at Novell. Good
guy, and not at all the kind of person who would be behind this
type of desperate and litigious strategy. He's quoted as saying,
"This isn't the way I'd go about it...I hate the litigation shop
label." [Source: Phil
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 2:55:48
Center Markup Language. Computer Associates, EDS, and Opsware
have teamed up to spearhead a specification "to describe data center
environments, dependencies between data center components and the
policies governing management and construction of those environments."
But already the controversy over the spec has begun. Although second-tier
vendors such as BEA, Tibco, Mercury, and Akamai are on board, some
pundits are pointing to the notably absent major players such as
HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun. And if DCML will help us manage the
data center, where's Cisco? I'd track this effort, but don't take
it seriously until you see the support of the folks who make the
systems we put into our data centers.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 5:14:03
Spam--The Long-Term Solution. Is charging a penny to send
an email message a good solution to spam? The idea has been floating
around for a while, and here are some recent opinions, beginning
with Don Park's post from mid-October. Follow ups include this from
Bray and a response from Don.
Posted Monday, October 13, 2003 9:25:11
Unicode. "The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer
Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets
(No Excuses!)" Joel Spolsky has a great explanation, inspired by
his discovery of how poorly PHP handles anything other than ASCII.
Posted Friday, October 10, 2003 6:25:04
(Conference) October 28-29, 2003, Las Vegas. What's Next
for Web Services? Web Services are an interesting proposition
for organizations and service providers. They have been labeled
as the technology that will revolutionize enterprise applications.
Enterprises are increasingly exploring web services to integrate
business applications. I'll give my views on web services,
and the available business opportunities for service providers.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003, 8:00 - 9:00 a.m.
and Contact Info
The IT Strategy Letter is published weekly by RDS
Strategies LLC. Much -- but not all -- of the content is published
earlier in Doug Kaye's