• United States

The envelope, please

Jan 13, 20033 mins
Access ControlNetworking

This is the first column of the new year, so that means it’s time once again to hand out Wired Windows’ annual Network MVP Award. This virtual award (there’s no plaque, no trophy and no big check) is given each year to the person or persons who – in my estimation – have done the most to further their organization’s network agenda during the previous year. Just like most sports’ MVP awards, this one is entirely subjective.

Previous winners have been HP’s Carly Fiorina (2001), Radiant Logic’s Michel Prompt (2000), Bowstreet’s Frank Moss and Jack Serfass (1999), Directory Enabled Networks co-chairs John Strassner and Steven Judd (1998), and Novell’s Eric Schmidt (1997).

For 2002, my choice comes as a bit of a surprise, even to me. Early in the year I excoriated the activities of this person’s group, only to be won over to its side by year-end. But it was the background against which this man worked that truly made the difference in determining the appropriateness of this choice.

Eric Dean served as the first chairman of the Liberty Alliance, the entity Sun started as a counterweight to Microsoft’s Passport service but that was soon taken over by the many Fortune 500 companies that were members of the group. Its mission was to build a way for Web sites to work together by creating a federated network identity solution for the Internet.

Early in the year, I complained bitterly about the speed and secrecy surrounding the development of Version 1 of the Liberty specification. What I didn’t know at the time (but now surmise) was that Dean was working to a personal timetable that required completing the specification before he could leave the chairmanship and return to his daily duties at the organization that paid his salary. You see, in addition to chairing the Liberty Alliance, Dean was (and still is) CIO of United Airlines, a company that late last year filed the largest transportation bankruptcy ever. United should be able to pull through and restructure to fit the design of a modern airline company, in large part because of the modernization work that Dean and his team are doing to the IT infrastructure.

It’s too soon to tell if Dean can win the MVP for his work at United, but his yeoman effort coupled with the splendid success of the Liberty Alliance places him in the exalted ranks of those to whom we should pay homage. Well done, Eric Dean!

Tip of the Week

While I really dislike the use of Adobe PDF files for Web sites, they do prove useful for electronic distribution of items intended to be printed. I even use the format myself for that purpose, but I don’t use Acrobat to create this documents. Instead, I use Fine Print software’s PDF Factory, which gives me most of the functionality at a lot lower cost. Take a look for yourself.