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Support: North Ridge Reports


Originally published: Spring 1998

NRSpeakTechnospeak. The hi-tech jargon that has produced official sounding terms like "mission critical applications", "enterprise system", "infrastructure", and recently, anything starting with an "e" (as in, eNetwork and eCommerce). And while you can argue that these terms make sense to those who use them, Technospeak is often used to market underdeveloped or shoddy products, or simply to create an aura of importance and urgency (note the client/server craze during the early 90's, followed now by browser/server). Of course, the results can be pretty humorous. Perhaps you'll recognize the marketing terms shown in our table, compiled by Dan Jones in his book, Technical Writing Style.

Put the funny stuff aside, however, and you're facing a difficult task: Discerning hype from worthy technology. This certainly applies to the latest "e" craze. The use of this letter has launched a thousand marketing campaigns. Just ask IBM, or maybe that's eIBM now. Their marketing barrage hasn't stopped with "e-business" or "eNetwork Software Solutions"; even VTAM has been swept under the e-carpet, and may now be referred to as "the SNA feature of eNetwork Communications Server for OS/390". Here's a suggestion for a new acronym: eSNAFU.

More confusing are the myriad definitions surrounding "e". Merchants touting their products via web site will tell you "e" means eCommerce-online sales. Ephilosophists will tell you it has something to do with the integration of Internets, Intranets, and Extranets. Microsoft might tell you it's the future of the world - so you had better buy Windows 98 with integrated Web technology, NOW! I.S. types may tell you it's the chance to bring those legacy applications into the modern world with browser/server technology. The overall feeling is one of urgency: don't get left behind - or else . . .

This is not to say, however, that worthy technology has not been developed. J.C. Penney, Nationwide Insurance, 3M, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are just a few of the companies and organizations who have added Web server duty to their mainframes rosters. Some of the uses (so far) include broadcasting internal memos and providing easy access to data and applications inside and outside the installation site.

The advantages are clear: Web based applications run faster if they are located on the same platform as the data. Not to mention that mainframes offer better security, reliability, scalability, and performance than pc-based operations.

The hope of an "e" world promises a time where there really may be seamless integration between Internets, Intranets, and Extranets, replete with browser/ server amenities and secure transactions galore. A world where customers could view catalog information from a mainframe and make a purchase, including billing, with a simple click. And while we're all excited about these possibilities, we have one request to its proponents: cut the Technospeak, and stick to the facts. Then we can talk about the eFuture.

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