When Network Tools Get Biz-Savvy

It
won’t amaze you any more that the letter e can change the strategies and
fortunes of infotech companies. But it does make people sit up and ask: Can
every company on the planet be an Internet company? Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle
reinvent themselves around the ‘e’, the dot in dotcom. Upstart dotcoms buy
out brick-and-mortar giants. AOL swallows Time-Warner.

Some IT companies make building blocks, and of
them, a few make the Internet’s building blocks. Microsoft and Intel have
ruled desktops. Sun servers still run quite a bit of the Internet, and till
recently the Net’s top-level dotcom nameserver ran on a Sun (now it’s on an
IBM). Cisco, which builds key components for the backbone of the Net, overtook
Microsoft last month as the world’s most valuable company. End desktop era,
begin network era.

Take Computer Associates, which I once knew of
only for its CA-Clipper compiler. It brought in network utilities, then
management tools. These evolved into the Unicenter TNG network management suite,
which grew up to handle enterprise systems management. At CA World in New
Orleans last month, CA showcased TNG as a business resource management
framework–business of course prefixed with an e. To manage networks on
a grand scale, with consumer or mobile devices from handhelds and PDAs to
modules in police cars. With its Interbiz and Jasmine ii platform, this ‘network
plumbing’ company is turning into an ebiz enabling company. This includes ASP
joint ventures–in India, too, later this month.

CA made ‘neural network agents’ to sniff past
data and predict future network trouble. In Unicenter, it tackles network
glitches. Applied to business problems, it’s a much bigger deal. A Neugent
could digest credit card transactions and fraudulent data, and then predict the
probability of a specific live transaction being fraudulent–catching fraud on
the fly.

As I pointed out last month when commenting on
Cisco’s rise, the Net-age IT rulers won’t be the ones with the biggest chunk
of the PC desktop, nor those with the biggest dotcom ads. They’ll be the ones
who have integrated inseparably with Internet technology and business. The
network is the computer, and the base of the e-conomy. A few, such as Cisco and
CA, have been working quietly on the backbone of that network. You may not have
consumers seeing their ‘Where do you want to go today?’ billboards, but they’ll
be there.

IT e-conomy 101: To survive, you adapt to the net
age. To rule, you lead the net age. You find your place in the ebiz ecology,
leverage and adapt your strengths to the Web, and help define the direction of
the Net age.

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