by CIO Staff

Reader Feedback: Return to the “Mainframe” Approach

Jun 01, 20064 mins
Green IT

Call for Return of the “Mainframe”

Regarding “Powering Down” [April 15], in the old days, when an application needed to be installed, IT managers didn’t ask for a new mainframe; they simply created an environment, installed the application, and voil¿the application was available.

With the increasing power of mid-range and Intel-based servers, it’s time to think of these servers (or clusters of them) as the modern mainframe. This is key; not only can it help save on power and cooling costs, but also it helps facilitate disaster recovery. Plus it can do magic to applications’ availability.

Companies need large, powerful servers, or clusters of servers, that can serve a large number of applications, using a virtualization tool. Business users should be comfortable with the idea of having a piece of the mainframe, as long as it works.

I also call for application consolidation. In most large enterprises, there are just too many applications with redundant functions. Courage and persistence is needed from IT managers to convince business users to give up the “personal favorites” and accept enterprisewide alternatives.

Sam Homer, PhD

Chief Consulting Officer

Toxic Leadership

Great article [“Toxic!” April 15]. What many people still do not realize is that quality leadership is a company’s most significant competitive advantage. Gone are the days when products, in general, can compete on quality, price or service—those are now standards of entry into the marketplace. Leadership is now the key.

Emad Georgy

CIO, Infonte LLC

In 2001 I began working in a data center that had been under the leadership of a toxic director for 35 years. He was tolerated because his superiors perceived him as someone who got things done. He ruled with an iron fist, using fear as a motivator. He resigned shortly after I started, but his legacy lingers until this day. The problem? People who could not bear him left, so upper management is full of human sheep. When the strong “father figure” disappeared, no one knew how to lead, and no one could make a decision. It is imperative to not allow toxic behavior to flourish, because once it does, it will become entrenched and you will pay the price for years to come.


Get the Right Team

While I enjoyed “Untangling Telecom” [March 15], I do have one comment. No matter how good a deal a CIO negotiates, it is all for nothing if the telecom’s team cannot live up to what has been negotiated.

The very best deal can go awry if the carrier’s team lacks the right skills. This team should include top-notch people in the following roles: the frontline salesperson, order management or provisioning person, billing person, data expert or engineer, voice expert and service manager. These people need to be in place, identified and immovable if you are to have a truly good experience with your carrier.

A great team can make up for some of the weaknesses in a contract or technology. Conversely, a weak team can make a good contract or technology perform horribly.

For the best deal, I also negotiate contracts that contain pricing and upgrade clauses. The difference comes in yearly commitment level. With most telecom contracts being three years, we always sign a contract that shows us meeting our yearly commitment by no later than the fifth month of the second year. That way every two years or so we can revisit the project and drive aggressive pricing, therefore keeping the incumbent honest and the other carriers involved and hungry.

Scott R. Kressner

VP and CIO, Rush Enterprises


In our April 15 cover story, we incorrectly described the state IT staff’s role on the Maine Medicaid project. CNSI contractors wrote the code while Maine staff oversaw the programming. We were also mistaken about Richard Thompson’s start date. Thompson was appointed CIO in 2003 and took over the project in April 2005.

In the May 1 story “How to Keep the Web from Becoming a Trap,” we incorrectly identified integration provider GXS.

We regret these errors.