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Issue of December 2004 

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Technology Senate

So long, Ceylon

Deepali Gupta on Technology Senate 2004 which provided India's top CIOs with food for thought.

Close to two hundred of India's leading CIOs came together in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for Technology Senate (TS) 2004, a four-day conference at the end of October, to familiarize themselves with trends in and the future of information technology in India, and to some extent, the world.

The CIOs got an early start with an absorbing CIO roundtable and a session on storage management and virtualization.

As it turned out, the concerns of today's CIOs have changed. They are no longer worried about proving the ROI, since most CEOs are aware of the significance of technology to the business. As L N Sundarrajan, Senior VP-IT, Biral Corporate Management Ltd., put it, the CIO now has to think in terms of toplines, bottomlines, and deadlines.

Ninad Karpe, Country Manager, CA India, presents the Computer Associates Intelligent Enterprise 2004 Award (in the Others category) to Satyen Naik, Assistant Manager, IS, SUMUL

In an age of increasing specialization, we have observed a shift from in-house teams to outsourced functions. Does this mean that the relevance of the CIO is undermined? The CIOs gathered expressed their views freely, and reached the conclusion that outsourcing only made them more critical to the organization.

A panel concluded that matrix management was the most critical role of the CIO, and for that the CIO would need a sound understanding of the key drivers of the business, prevalent technology, and the corporate culture of the company. On that note, TS sought to widen the horizons of all participants on both the strategic and technological fronts.

Seven subjects

Leading IT vendors presented an overview of the top technology topics across seven tracks.

It started with IBM affirming that storage management should be part of a holistic and well-planned IT strategy.

De-lighted: healthy food to suit all palates in a folksy ambience

In the second track, Sun spoke about unleashing the power of network computing using a well-designed information architecture, adopting a practical approach, and making the technology invisible to the end-user.

After that came the presentation on adaptive infrastructure management by Hewlett Packard. It highlighted the need for dynamic automation of business demands because a lot of network downtime is caused by misbehaving applications.

The fourth track had Reliance Infocomm speaking of the convergent enterprise, and the tools and methods by which it can be achieved.

Canon brought together a CIO panel to speak of the importance of document management for the sake of effectively utilising printer resources.

Cisco and Novell touched upon the future ofenterprise networking and identity management respectively.


Apart from what was held in the common conference room, there was a closed-door roundtable on information security which established that security was not just the responsibility of the IT department; it concluded that security risks can only be minimized, but not eliminated.

Pie and pineapple

CIOs voice their concerns and aspirations during the roundtable conference

To help the delegates focus on such intellectually intensive sessions, appetizing meals were prepared keeping the health factor and the sedentary nature of the conference in mind. The food was light but had every bit of Sri Lankan ethnicity to make it exotic. There was a spread of salads, fruits and fruit juices. The spicy aroma of the prawns mesmerized the eater. Accompanying the food was red rice to counter any reaction the spice-laden side dishes might provoke. For dessert a spread of flan, pie, cheesecake, and meringue were served with watermelon and pineapple.

The Gartner factor

A number of CIO participants last year had mentioned that they would welcome analysts who could give a broader perspective. The request did not go unheeded. This year there were some senior speakers from Gartner including Steve Bittinger and Bob Hayward.

While Bittinger spoke of the need to outdo functional requirements if the IT department wished to avoid being outsourced, Hayward talked about the importance of IT governance.

Since not everyone can discuss his company's issues out in the open, the Senate provided all CIOs the opportunity to interact with the Gartner consultants on a one-to-one basis.

Home to the Pavillion

CIOs voice their concerns and aspirations during the roundtable conference

In parallel with the sessions were theme pavilions, which demonstrated technology that vendors expect will soon take the market by storm. The theme pavilion was split in seven sections.

AMD setup its Athlon 64 FX processor that enables the use of 64-bit software applications.

Emerson Network Power demonstrated a range of Liebert, Emerson energy systems, and ASCO products for power conditioning.

Displayed on the Zenith counter was SAAZ a complete suite to remotely manage and monitor servers, networks, applications, desktops and security.

Krone exhibited a range of their Cat 5e and Cat 6 cabling solutions.

VIA Technologies India presented a low cost thin client that could be useful in a centralized environment.

Eating fire: the delegates witness Sri Lankan culture first hand

Interactive Intelligence exhibited their business communications software for IP telephony, contact center automation, unified communications, and customer self-service.

The Storage Application Network Engine (SANe) that simplifies storage network complexity was on display on the MaXXan Systems stand.

A unique feature of this year's senate was the spouse program. The better halves of the CIOs

attending the seminar had a bus and a tour operator to themselves for two days. They visited a fishing village and many indulged in extensive shopping.

The main highlights of this year's future enterprise, the annual demonstration of cutting edge technology at the Senate comprised voice & data convergence, self defending networks, and mobility.

Award-winning CIOs

Painting the pavilions red: An overview of the theme pavilions

Technology Senate is not just about networking and knowledge sharing. It is also a golden opportunity to honor the often-overlooked heroes of business. The Computer Associates Intelligent Enterprise 2004 and

Come and join my party: the CIOs at the beach party on Mount Lavina

SecureSynergy Security Strategist 2004 Awards were held with that in mind.

Six CIOs were awarded for the business opportunities that they brought to their organizations by means of IT. Three were recognized for safeguarding their networks from a threat-ridden cyber world.

Splashing away

After three days of tech talk there was an evening beach party followed by a morning of water sports.

Kapil Bhatia, Manager, IT, Syndicate Bank, takes the microphone and sings

An elated gathering danced the night away to a mix of music styles. Then, as the day awoke, the participants visited a soft white-sand beach that led to green waters with a baby sun horizon.

If that gives you a calm feeling, then complete the picture with about a hundred and fifty people screaming as they rode banana floats, water scooters, and jet skis, and played a game of water polo between the West (Mumbai, Pune) and the Rest (Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad).

This was just before Technology Senate 2004 came to an end, and the delegates flew back home with fond memories and in anticipation of next TS.

Where will that be held? What's on the agenda? We're not telling yet—the best things in life are worth waiting for.

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