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Web 2.0: CIOs want it their way

A new study found CIOs want Web 2.0 technology, but they're a little insecure about getting it from emerging specialized vendors.

CIOs are on board with Web 2.0 technology, but they don't want to deal with emerging vendors in the market. They want to get the technology from major software vendors.

CIOs also want Web 2.0 suites of technology. They don't want to buy separate wiki, blog and RSS platforms. They want one integrated suite that they can buy from one vendor, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc.

"It's all about integration and security," said Oliver Young, an analyst at the Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm. "They trust Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP. They're running half of their enterprise applications already. It's so much easier and so much more reliable to get it from those guys who are already in their shops."

For his new report, Young surveyed 119 CIOs at U.S. companies with 500 or more employees. Seventy-one percent said they would be more interested in Web 2.0 technology if they could buy it from major vendors such as Microsoft or IBM. And 74% said they would be more interested in Web 2.0 technology if they could acquire it as a software suite.

Young said major vendors are starting to offer Web 2.0 suites. For example, IBM's latest upgrade of Lotus Notes includes several Web 2.0 components integrated into its collaboration platform.

"It's the best-looking suite out there for Web 2.0," Young said. He added that Microsoft's SharePoint product also features the beginnings of a Web 2.0 suite.

Ron Maillette, executive vice president and CIO of Education Corporation of America in Birmingham, Ala., said he thinks Web 2.0 has its place in the enterprise, although security of sensitive information remains a concern.

He said a suite from a single vendor will undoubtedly provide tighter integration and perhaps lower maintenance costs. However, a single vendor suite is an anathema to the very concept of what much of Web 2.0 is supposed to represent.

"There is the old saw about back in the days of the 'Hippies' as representing independence, freedom, doing your own thing. ... But the first thing you did to be a real 'Hippie" was to wear the 'Hippie uniform,'" Maillette said. "To a degree, going with a huge mainstream player is almost counter to the spirit of Web 2.0."

Maillette hasn't adopted Web 2.0 technology yet at his company. As a result, he's of two minds on the issue. He said if he were looking for "bulletproof" technology, he would be inclined to go with a mainstream vendor. "This is along the lines of 'no one ever got fired for choosing IBM.'" But Maillette said if he really wanted to harness the "collective conscience" of his organization, he might be inclined to try the smaller, more specialized vendors.

Ken Liu, CEO of MindTouch Inc., a San Diego-based vendor of wiki technology, said he wasn't surprised by Forrester's findings. But he's not particularly concerned that CIOs would prefer working with IBM or Microsoft rather than a smaller vendor like MindTouch.

Liu said his customers tend to be business users and work groups within larger companies. He said when business users adopt Web 2.0 technology, they go with small vendors that can provide cheap, agile applications that can be deployed quickly and easily.

To a degree, going with a huge mainstream player is almost counter to the spirit of Web 2.0.

Ron Maillette, CIO, Education Corporation of America

"[Young is] right," Liu said. "I hear this everywhere. Business users, work groups, individuals in companies, they want Web 2.0 tools that are fast and agile. Eventually the CIO gets involved. They think in terms of corporate-wide adoption. Then IT has to get involved and do their thing, and of course they want to go with the big guys. That's the eternal battle, between centralized IT and user groups."

Liu said Web 2.0 suites are also very sensible, but it depends on how vendors package them.

"In terms of big companies, the devil is in the details," he said. "How do they implement those? Would you make it so tied to corporate applications that the danger is the suite is tied to other things that are big and heavy and may not be very useful? Microsoft SharePoint and its Web 2.0 features. What they're really supporting is SharePoint. These Web 2.0 features may not be their main business, but they tacked them on. The suite may not be applicable to everybody. Every group will use different parts."

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