September 30, 2003

Robert Carter, executive VP & CIO of FedEx Corp., and Denis O'Leary, a private investor who was CIO and director of corporate finance during his 25-year career at J.P. Morgan Chase, squared off at InformationWeek's Fall Conference over tech-industry issues. The debate was moderated by Scott Dinsdale, executive VP of digital strategy at the Motion Picture Association of America.

InformationWeek: What's Linux's potential?

Carter said Linux will continue to boom because of the "three C's": capable, cost, and cool. It works well, and the cost savings are impossible to overlook. Also, programmers and, perhaps more important, tech-smart kids, think it's cool.

O'Leary said it's true that Linux is getting in the door because of its price tag. But Linux's cost gets a big "depends"--implementation costs can sharply change that total cost picture.

InformationWeek: Should IT be the corporate cop?

O'Leary said CIOs need to be more focused on security issues. "Job one in the enterprise is to bolt down security."

Carter said if being a corporate cop means overpolicing your employees, then that's a bad thing. "We put our security policy out there and say, 'This is proper behavior.'" The rest is up to employees to follow through.

InformationWeek: Is Web services hip or hype?

Carter said there's huge potential for Web services. "Where we can make a difference is how we connect with suppliers." The Internet has vastly improved that, and "Web services is a continuation of that phenomenon."

O'Leary said in the short term, a lot of work needs to be done for Web services to be meaningful--for one, there needs to be secure standards around the technology. But the "huge potential" for Web services is farther down the road.

This article originally appeared in InformationWeek, Sept. 29, 2003.