Architecture and Hardware


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In the world of telecommunications, more is never enough. Pursuing ever greater capacity and services, the long-time suppliers of voice-based services are transforming themselves into full-service providers of a galaxy of communication and IT options. The challenge now becomes how to manage all we have while still developing more solutions. As usual, we turn to software.

This month’s special section examines the new paradigm of agent-oriented programming and the application of agent-based systems in modern telecommunications endeavors. Guest editor Sahin Albayrak, founder and scientific head of the DAI-Laboratory at the Technical University of Berlin where activities center around the R&D of agent-oriented technologies to support telecommunications services, has brought together some of the most prominent practitioners and researchers in the field to help deliver this story. The articles in this section discuss topics including designing agent-oriented systems, service/network management, mobility services, software development methods, as well as future telecommunication applications and telematics services. Our deepest gratitude for all who worked so diligently on this project.

Also this month, we explore the design issues and business strategies most likely to yield viable e-commerce ventures in today’s problematic environment. Varun Grover and James Teng detail the impressive power of infomediaries bringing together customers and suppliers to promote online transactions. The role of middleman is clearly not dead. The messenger, however, is another story. Mark Keil and Daniel Robey examine the costly reluctance of auditors, both employees and contractors, to share evidence of failing software projects with their employer. Their findings indicate many a runaway project might have been curtailed if auditors were not in fear for their own jobs.

Our columnists this month put new perspectives on old notions. Robert Glass chides academics who advocate their own work and ideas and calls for the truth-seekers to steer the profession to a nobler cause. Peter Denning explores the role of the "computing technologist" and the need for the scientific core of IT to open its provincial door—and collective mind—to a new business era in computing. And Robert Ward, Mohamed Fayad, and Mauri Laitinen suggest some best practices for software process improvement to benefit small companies.

Diane Crawford,

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