Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Best-of-breed is the way to go

The Internaut column 'Using best-of-breed components can limit your app integration' [GCN, Jan. 10, Page 33] addresses an important issue facing federal agencies trying to automate the enterprise, namely best-of-breed vs. single-vendor solutions. Which is the best fit for government?

Shawn P. McCarthy chides systems integrators for touting best-of-breed as a panacea for fixing agency systems. He further implies that best-of-breed is suitable only for customized systems, which have a reputation for becoming do-it-yourself solutions.

These assessments miss the mark on the trends and realities of automating the federal enterprise. Over the past 15 years, the government has moved toward using best-of-breed, commercial applications to support financial and administrative operations. If carefully selected, they meet most of an agency's requirements out of the box.

While federal agencies are seeking integrated enterprise software solutions to support their administrative operations, the implementation of a single vendor's suite of software is an impractical choice. With downsizing, federal agencies don't have the wherewithal to secure the necessary budgets. Further, it requires tremendous political support from multiple constituencies across the enterprise.

And let's make sure the goals are clear. Federal agencies must realize results in a timely manner. Implementing a full suite of software solutions is often unrealistic.

The best-of-breed approach lets agencies implement business function improvements, which provide the greatest vertical depth, choosing the solution that best fits their needs. GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn., in a study cited by McCarthy, found that 79 percent of respondents preferred best-of-breed solutions, and that validates this approach.

Best-of-breed solutions, employing the latest technology and supported by consulting and implementation expertise, are the best fit for government to meet the more-with-less challenge and move to the next-generation enterprise.

Zip Brown

Vice president for electronic government solutions

American Management Systems Inc.

Fairfax, Va.

Upgrading is such a deal'not

I enjoyed your tutorial on upgrading PCs, 'Discarded system rises with upgrade' [GCN, Jan. 10, Page 25]. I wanted to share my group's experiences over the past few years.

Upgrading was a common process for us until about two years ago. Prices have dropped so dramatically since then that upgrading is no longer economical.

For example, your article stated you spent $620 to upgrade a 200-MHz machine to 433 MHz. I went to the Web site of Quantex Microsystems Inc. of Somerset, N.J., a second-tier merchant we have had success with, and priced a 466-MHz system at $730. The price included an 8G hard drive, 64M of RAM and a 10/100-Mbps Ethernet network interface card all ready to go.

By simply buying a new machine, we're left with an old, slower machine that can be used in data acquisition or for spare parts. We have not used the AcceleraPCI but have used other upgrade processors from Evergreen Technologies Inc. of Corvallis, Ore.

Even in machines that Evergreen tags as compatible, we have had incompatability problems and wasted hours trying to get the processors to work.

Once you factor in the labor at $20 to $50 per hour to make an upgrade, the value decreases even more. You mentioned that it took 30 minutes to plug in the AcceleraPCI, but for your example upgrade you still would need to add a new video card and hard drive and install Microsoft Windows 98.

I agree that upgrades can save money, but only when they are simple'such as to a larger hard drive or more memory. But once we get into upgrading multiple parts or an operating system, I persuade my users to just buy the new machine.

Tracy Lankford

ADP coordinator and PC site coordinator

Environmental Protection Agency

Research Triangle Park, N.C.

GCN welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be typed double-spaced and must include name, address, telephone number and signature of the author. Send to: Letters to the Editor, Government Computer News, Suite 300, 8601 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Md. 20910.


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