Wireless: Bluetooth to Work with Wi-Fi
A future version of Bluetooth will be able to increase throughput for sending videos, music, and other high-bandwidth applications by using nearby Wi-Fi networks, according to the group in charge of Bluetooth development.
Ander Edlund, European marketing director for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said in PC World that the technology enabling Bluetooth connections to hop on neighboring Wi-Fi networks is about a year from being ready ( www.pcworld.com/article/id,142376/article.html). "We're on [Bluetooth version] 2.1 now, so it might be in version 3," Edlund said on the eve of the Mobile World Congress conference in February. The technology that will enable Bluetooth to use Wi-Fi is called Alternate MAC/PHY.
Bluetooth was designed to wirelessly connect devices—PCs and printers, for example—in a way that doesn't consume as much power as Wi-FI, although it doesn't move data as quickly or as far.
Bluetooth developers are already working to make their technology compliant with another wireless broadband standard, WiMedia Alliance's Certified Wireless USB ultra-wideband technology.
However, Certified Wireless USB products have only recently begun to appear. Bluetooth is turning to a more ubiquitous high-speed wireless technology for applications for which Bluetooth's own bandwidth (which has a theoretical maximum of 3 Mbits per second) is insufficient. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group stressed that it's also continuing to work on pairing Bluetooth with Certified Wireless USB technology.
Alternate MAC/PHY would let a Bluetooth connection use an 802.11x network only when additional bandwidth is needed; for tasks that can make do with standard Bluetooth speeds, the connection wouldn't use the Wi-Fi network.
Wireless: Wireless Broadband Opportunities Fuel Rapid Development of Mobile WiMAX
West Technology Research Solutions (WTRS; www.wtrs.net) has released a new market analysis report that outlines the key role wireless broadband will play in mobile WiMAX's strong expected growth rate.
The report (available at www.wtrs.net/pressrelease_012908b.htm) includes a thorough evaluation of emerging technologies, including WiMAX (both fixed and mobile), WiBRO, high-speed packet access, broadband over powerline, and advanced optical fiber. The analysis also includes an assessment of global-scale market, regulatory, and governmental drivers, such as market trends and forecasts, regulatory issues, standards development, economic effects, and strategic developments. In addition, the report looks at market issues in individual "early" geographic areas, highlighting the companies just entering a particular market and expecting to achieve a reasonable return on investment.
"Broadband networks are in the process of evolving. Regulatory and economic drivers are creating a wealth of opportunities for the development of next-generation wireless technology networks," says Kristen West, principal analyst of WTRS. "Within a short time, we'll see mobile WiMAX begin to play a significant role in the US market."
Outsourcing: Worldwide Outsourcing Industry Rebounding
With fear of a recession growing in the US, jitters on virtually all major stock exchanges worldwide, and widespread cutbacks in corporate spending, a recent survey by EquaTerra ( www.equaterra.com) revealed that outsourcing demand is rebounding, with continued growth in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and a substantial increase in North America. In fact, 70 percent of respondents in EquaTerra's survey cited increased demand levels for IT and business process outsourcing in the fourth quarter of 2007, with demand up 19 percent over the previous quarter and up 24 percent over the fourth quarter of 2006. Furthermore, 59 percent of service providers cited new growth in the fourth quarter of 2007, and 57 percent expected demand to increase in the first quarter of 2008.
EquaTerra, a firm that advises companies about outsourcing services, attributes the increase in outsourcing demand to a variety of factors, including
• Weak economic indicators. Although expense reduction isn't the only driver, many organizations have reemphasized outsourcing to increase their bottom lines.
• New functions outsourced. Buyers are focusing on new and growing areas such as legal and knowledge-process outsourcing, document and electronic records management, industry-specific offerings, and knowledge-intensive services.
• Service provider readiness. Respondents indicated that they're seeing improvements in overall service provider capacity, in part because of improved pricing and contracting terms.
• Smaller, more numerous deals. The outsourcing market continues to evolve with more but smaller deals spread across a greater number of service providers and delivered on a more global basis.
EquaTerra also found that the increase in outsourcing activity doesn't appear to have a negative effect on workforces. For example, in IT—the leading outsourced process, as cited by both advisors and service providers polled in 2007—the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found an additional 300,000 jobs were added in 2007, average quarterly employment topped 3.76 million (up from 3.46 million at the end of 2006), and quarterly unemployment averaged just 2 percent—exactly the same as for the larger professional and management employment categories.
Staff Turnover Drives Outsourcing
Continuous IT staff turnover rates of up to 20 percent per year are driving companies to increasingly embrace outsourcing, according to the Gartner Group ( www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=587308). The market research company forecasts the Indian IT services market ballooning to more than US$10 billion by 2011, with a five-year compounded annual growth rate of 23.2 percent.
The need for agility, growth, innovation, and cost cuts are other key factors behind companies' choosing to hire external service providers over managing IT services in-house. Some companies are even considering spinning off their own IT departments to take advantage of the external demand for IT services. According to Gartner, as companies become more mature in their approach to IT, they must rely on external providers to help with consulting services. Increased adoption of remote infrastructure management services has driven the development of network and security operation centers, remote management centers, and other service offerings.
Employment: Average Starting Salaries Increase for IT Professionals
IT professionals in the US can expect starting salaries to increase an average of 5.3 percent in 2008, according to the Robert Half Technology 2008 Salary Guide. Larger increases in base compensation are expected in high-demand segments, such as applications and Web development, network management, and database administration.
According to the guide, lead applications developers who manage software development teams and projects will see the greatest starting salary gains of any job classification in 2008, with base compensation expected to rise 7.6 percent (to between US $80,250 and $108,000) annually.
Base compensation for applications architects, who design an application's major foundational aspects including its interface and infrastructure, is projected to increase by 7.5 percent this year (to between $87,250 and $120,000). Messaging administrators, who monitor systems and capacities, should see starting salaries increase 7.1 percent (to between $55,000 and $77,750).
The guide also predicted that
• data modelers can expect base compensation in the range of $74,250 to $102,000, a gain of 7 percent over 2007;
• network managers will see average starting salaries rise 7 percent, to a range of $74,500 to $98,500;
• base compensation for senior IT auditors will increase 6.9 percent, with starting salaries between $86,750 and $114,750;
• average starting salaries for business intelligence analysts will rise 6.6 percent to a range of $78,250 to $108,250; and
• industries forecasting particularly strong demand for IT professionals in 2008 will include financial services, healthcare, and commercial construction.
For a free copy of the guide, call (800) 234-6145 or visit www.roberthalftechnology.com.
Business: Few Companies Have Adequate IT Governance
Only 12 percent of businesses take technology seriously enough to operate with full board-level oversight of their IT resources, according to new research from IT Governance Limited ( www.itgovernance.co.uk), a UK-based firm that publishes books, tools, and information for governance, risk management, and compliance. Despite increasing compliance pressures from the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the UK's Combined Code on Corporate Governance, the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and other regulatory regimes, boards still appear to be lagging behind in their implementation of appropriate IT governance measures.
IT Governance Limited polled nearly 100 technology and compliance professionals on a range of IT governance issues. Despite the critical importance of technology to most organizations, only 12 percent said that IT governance was important in their organizations and that board-level IT oversight committees existed. Although an additional 16.5 percent reported that progress was being made toward achieving IT governance, more than 50 percent indicated that full compliance was far from the case.
Respondents were similarly skeptical about the grasp their board members have on technology's importance. Fewer than 7 percent said that board members understood the risks posed to business operations by information and IT systems.
More than 57 percent polled said that directors and officers failed to understand the age and health of the current IT portfolio or the business implications of deferring maintenance. Fewer than 37 percent said that IT governance frameworks were integrated with their company's enterprise risk management regime, with fewer than 7 percent of this number agreeing that this integration was fully achieved.
Asked if their companies used standard IT governance frameworks, such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, Control Objectives for Information and Technology, International Organizational for Standardization (ISO) 17799, or the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 9 percent said yes, and 19 percent said that good progress was being made toward this goal. However, more than 21 percent said that their companies used such frameworks only occasionally, and fully 30 percent indicated that they didn't use them at all.
Commenting on the results in a press release, Alan Calder, IT Governance Limited's CEO, said, "It seems that almost every day we read a new story about lost customer data or expensively failed IT investments. However, it would seem that many board directors simply tune this out mentally and think it is a problem for somebody else. […] We need to see more boards recognizing that there is no dividing line between IT and the rest of the business, and that they consequently need to exercise the same governance as they would over finance or marketing." To read about the survey, visit www.prnewsnow.com/Public_Release/Tech_Computer/182272.html.
Security: Email and Litigation
Think email archiving and compliance is your IT department's job? Think again, says a report from global forensic and e-discovery expert Steven Mason at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Your IT department is, "at best, only the custodians of the records," he says. Instead, the corporate secretary, typically one of the highest officers in an organization, is the true responsible party for email compliance. Mason discusses this and other realities about email retention and compliance in "E-mail and Litigation," which is available for complimentary download from Forensic & Compliance Systems, developer of the Cryoserver ( www.cryoserver.com) forensic email archiving and compliance solution ( www.cryoserver.com/email_litigation).
In his report, Mason uses actual court examples, including the high-profile antitrust litigation between Intel and AMD, to highlight specific requirements and consequences of poor email archiving and compliance policies and practices.
One concern the report raises is how to determine whether an email has been altered. Mason points out that the most common practice in many organizations—which is to change the message's subject field to reflect a client or project—actually constitutes an alteration to the document that could cause problems if it were later required for court submission.
Mason recommends that CIOs, IT managers, and board members recognize their responsibilities when it comes to email archiving and compliance: "The evidence that comes before a court during legal proceedings reflects the way a business operates. Given that virtually every business now uses digital documents and e-mail correspondence in such vast quantities, it is critical that the documents relied upon by the business are retained properly."
CIOs and IT managers can learn more about email archiving compliance by visiting Forensic & Compliance Systems at www.cryoserver.com/compliance.
Spyware Poses Greater Threat
Spyware now poses one of the biggest threats to organizations, whereas threats from worms, viruses, and browser-based attacks have lessened, according to research from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA; www.comptia.org).
Roughly 55 percent of 1,070 organizations surveyed said that the volume of spyware they combat has increased in the past 12 months. "Spyware was rarely mentioned as a concern just a few years ago," says John Venator, CompTIA's president and CEO. "It's another example of how information security threats are moving targets that can pose great challenges to even the most security-conscious organization."
Other security challenges include the lack of user awareness, cited by 54 percent of survey respondents; viruses and worms (49 percent); authorized user abuse (44.2 percent); and browser-based attacks (41.5 percent). The percentages of incidents attributed to viruses, worms, and browser-based attacks are down from the prior year's survey.
These results don't suggest that organizations can become complacent about lower-level threats, however. When CompTIA asked organizations to identify the types of security attacks they expect to face in the next three years, viruses and worms topped the list:
• viruses/worms (20 percent);
• spyware/malware (14 percent);
• wireless access (9 percent);
• email attachments (9 percent);
• phishing/social engineering/ID theft (5 percent); and
• remote access (5 percent).
More information on the survey is available at www.comptia.org/pressroom/get_pr.aspx?prid=1299.