Computerworld Honors picks the best technologies

The Computerworld Honors awards program Monday night focused attention to some of the world's most advanced technologies, including an IT project managed by David Milne, the director of database technologies at the Chicago Stock Exchange Inc. who is running a database grid on servers that use a discontinued processor technology, the Alpha chip. Some of the Alpha Servers have even been bought used, he said.

The stock exchange received an achievement award in the finance, insurance and real estate category for its use of an Oracle database in a grid. The grid is running on clustered Alpha Servers from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), delivering high service levels at a reasonable cost and sparing the need for a dedicated system for the grid. And when Milne needs more compute power he can go out and buy "what was at one point Cadillac technology at a commodity price."

The Chicago Stock Exchange's award illustrates a key facet of some of Monday night's award winners: Having the latest or best technology isn't as important as how technology is assembled to reduce costs and deliver new services. One company that makes that point is Zipcar Inc.

Zipcar is an entirely self-service car rental company. Customers can make reservations over the Internet and use a smart card to gain access to a rental vehicle, while the company relies on wireless technologies to track its assets. "A lot of pieces that are really geared to self-service" make Zipcar possible, said Roy Russell, vice president of technology for the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

Zipcar was the winner in the Honors' transportation category.

These various case studies collected by Computerworld Honors program, nearly 230, are used by more than 250 libraries and research institutions. "It is our goal to document the history of a revolution in progress," said Bob Carrigan, president of IDG Communications, the parent company of Computerworld.