Readers’ letters

DRM: not a waste of time

In your December issue I read with interest an article about Digital Rights Management (‘DRM? Just a waste of time, say Microsoft researchers’). We are an Internet and Application Service Provider based in Leeds and possibly the only company in the UK heavily involved in providing and administering a DRM solution.

While I could be very cynical and ask if this is just another one of Microsoft’s PR ploys – condemn a system and follow it up with a new MS product launch a few months later – I would like to address the main issues surrounding DRM and the important role it plays.

Put simply: DRM must work, otherwise acts of piracy will force businesses to provide content that has no worth, value or interest to the users.

We must continue to move away from endless flat text and really engage the user by encouraging businesses to invest in valuable Internet content. To do this, we must actively promote and optimise DRM. Claiming that DRM is not the way signals a death knell for the Internet.

If you look at the past year, users have become more sophisticated in their understanding of emerging technologies. No longer is the Internet an executive plaything, they now have a need from the Internet and its content. It is a powerful tool, but can you imagine now not being able to listen to or download music or watch video content online when we have spent over two years rolling out broadband?

The demand to engage and interact with the user has become the prime focus of many businesses using the Internet as a shop window. In order for businesses to keep investing in quality content, they must begin to apply some form of fee and DRM is the only viable way of doing this.

As for the hacking community, there is only a very small percentage of determined individuals working on the tedious process of breaking down code and then passing the code around to each other; and every minute of every day there are technical people all over the world being paid to make the code more and more secure. So is this a real argument for scrapping DRM? – I think not!

Shelley Wilson
Major accounts director
Firstnet Services Limited

Service economy

As your recent article ‘Outside of the box’ (Information Age, November 2002) intimates, application outsourcing has come a long way since the boom and bust of the application service provider (ASP) story of a few years ago.

One huge problem in the past was that far too many players could provide the SP part effectively, but either lacked applications at all, or tried to pipe in applications that were not suitable for remote delivery.

That said, I must argue that to a large extent ASP’s reputation was unfairly tarnished. Its link to the dot-com era made ASP a dirty word. The concept was built up for a fall by over-zealous adoption predictions, and teething problems that were often overstated.

Concerns over security, bandwidth and SLAs have now been addressed, and these obstacles are by far outweighed by the benefits that the remote management of applications can deliver. And the success stories are not a rare as your article suggests.

Many [companies] are already reaping the benefits of remotely delivered mission-critical applications. This is software that runs their businesses – from sales order processing, to financials, warehousing and manufacturing.

Most of these customers are in the market with most to gain from the model: small and medium-size businesses. The low start-up costs, rapid roll-out and flexibility suits the SME business model and gives cash-strapped small businesses access to sophisticated applications that they simply could not previously afford. Essentially, remote management of applications allows IT to support the business rather than become a burden on it.

Colin Boag
Managing director
JBS Computer Services

Tools puzzle

I was somewhat surprised to read in your article on the take up of B2B web services (‘The missing link’, November 2002) that “there are no readily available tools today that will even monitor and report when a web service from an ad hoc business partner has failed”.

This is simply not the case. As you point out, web services are based on a set of existing technology standards. These standards are already in place and tools are available to support them. For example, there are scripting technologies that can mimic and test for web service availability and give response-time metrics.

In fact, for most sites, web services are a management challenge only and a change of thinking from supporting visual interfaces driven by people, to a machine interaction driven by other machines.

Mike Lucas
Technology Manager

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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