Close Window


A Monthly Newsletter - October 2003

Our "News You Can Use" feature covers the latest salvos in the battle over the value of IT, an engagement opened by the Harvard Business Review article "Does IT Matter?" with answering flurries of well-flung opinion.

SecureCRT® 4.1 and SecureFX 2.2® are now in beta 3 release. It's time to check out Kerberos support with VShell™ 2.2.2 if you haven't done so already. CRT™ 4.1 and AbsoluteFTP® 2.2 also have new beta versions. Maintenance releases for SecureCRT 4.0.9 and CRT 4.0.9 are also available.


1. Feature - (In)Validating IT
2. ServerWatch Review - Shelling Out for VShell
3. Tips - Displaying Text In The SecureCRT Title Bar
4. Recommended Reading - "Lean Software Development"
5. New Releases
6. Current Releases

1. Feature - (In)Validating IT

The Harvard Business Review published a provocative essay by its Editor at Large, Nicholas Carr in May 2003. In "Does IT Matter?", Carr contends that no, IT doesn't matter — at least, not compared to what most companies spend on it. After the recession of 2000, this argument may resonate with some executives if not with IT people. As often happens, the article's value is in the furious debate it spawns.

Carr claims that strategic value increases if a resource is scarce, and tries to demonstrate that IT is a commodity through the decreasing cost of such components as PCs and Internet access. He concludes that IT is often not strategic to a company's business plan, but is infrastructure — nuts and bolts. The broad generalizations in Carr's argument are numerous, chief among them modeling IT as a monolith, like a railroad or an electric powerplant.

Carr does make cogent recommendations for IT decisions. He says companies should manage IT defensively, by evaluating ROI on IT investments, purchasing established IT solutions, and above all by focusing on the risk of downtime and security vulnerabilities.

Many management and IT professionals wrote to HBR to support and oppose Carr's contentions. They broaden the conception of IT strategy, stressing the importance of reforming business practices to capitalize on IT investment, measuring the cumulative effect of these changes, and making a clear distinction between infrastructure and software.

In CIO Magazine, Michael Schrage answers that IT may actually be more like a "flexible information factory" than a railroad. He asserts that the design of the factory (or IT system) has a huge impact on business innovation, far beyond that of machine tools or computer systems. His belief is that "IT can profoundly transform the economics of innovation, segmentation and differentiation for most businesses." Where Carr's perspective fits the current reality of recessionary cost-cutting, the business cycle inevitably shifts to investment in new opportunities. Schrage's vision captures the
risk-reward stance of companies alert to using IT to drive growth.

Reading on the "Does IT Matter?" Debate:

"Does IT Matter?" Harvard Business Review, May 2003

"Why IT Really Does Matter," CIO Magazine, August 1, 2003

2. ServerWatch Review – Shelling Out For VShell

The October 8 issue of Serverwatch states that "VanDyke's VShell is a Secure Shell server that is simple to install, straightforward to configure, and runs on multiple platforms. But how valuable are these attributes when a free and equally viable alternative is available?" To read the exciting conclusion, find the complete article online.

3. Tips – Displaying Text In The SecureCRT Title Bar

It can be useful to have the SecureCRT title bar update dynamically, especially when using multiple concurrent SecureCRT sessions. There is an option in your Session Options that allows you to statically set the title bar for a particular SecureCRT window. However, this is not always sufficient.

If you need to place information in the SecureCRT title bar dynamically, SecureCRT supports the standard xterm escape sequences for changing the window title bar.

These escape sequences can be sent from the remote system by a variety of means, and allow you to change how the SecureCRT title bar is displayed arbitrarily.

If the remote system sends the following, SecureCRT places "sometext" in the title bar of the SecureCRT window.

ESC ] ; sometext CTRL+G

The following Perl script demonstrates this functionality.

#! /usr/bin/perl
# - sends xterm escape sequence to
# change window title to @ARGV

$esc = "\x1b";
$bel = "\x7";

$txt = join(" ", @ARGV);

print $esc, "];", $txt, $bel;

When run from your shell on the remote, it will take any arguments as text to display in the title bar.

For example, if run on a Un*x system:

% $user@$host\:`pwd`

would place something similar to the following in the SecureCRT title bar.


The text would depend, of course, on the values of $user, $host, and the current working directory.

There are many possible applications. One common use is to hard-code the escape sequence into your shell prompt, or use a similar mechanism, so that each time you use the cd command on a Un*x host, for example, the title bar is changed to reflect the current working directory, or whatever you want displayed in the title bar.

For additional information on xterm escape sequences, refer to the following web links. provides specific instructions on this technique:

MIT provides an exhaustive list of escape sequences:

4. Recommended Reading – Lean Software Development

This month, we recommend "Lean Software Development," by Mary & Tom Poppendieck (Addison-Wesley 2003, ISBN 0321150783).

Agile software development methodologies, including Extreme Programming (XP), offer small- to medium-sized development teams a framework for developing software with vague or rapidly changing specifications. The development team here at VanDyke uses many XP techniques including iteration cycles built around customer stories, pair programming, and a test-first approach to develop products.

In Lean Software Development, the authors identify seven lean principles derived from the world of manufacturing and adapt them to software development. A distinction is made immediately between principles and practice — the authors focus on providing a framework for applying these lean principles to your development environment rather than proscribing a rigid set of behaviors that must be followed. As an example, the chapter on eliminating waste from your processes focuses on how to go about finding waste rather than suggesting specifically what you should look to eliminate.

Every chapter concludes with a "Try This" list to get your development team thinking about how these lean principles might be applied. If the idea of using lightweight, agile development in your software development projects sounds intriguing, this is an excellent introduction to the subject, offering a short, comprehensive overview with many good exercises to adapt the general principles to your particular situation.

Download the introduction to the book in PDF. Do a search from this page for "Lean Software Development".

5. New Releases

Beta releases are available for SecureCRT 4.1, CRT 4.1, SecureFX 2.2, and AbsoluteFTP 2.2.

The beta 3 releases of SecureCRT 4.1 and SecureFX 2.2, when used with VShell 2.2, provide support for Kerberos v5 authentication.

New maintenance releases are also available for SecureCRT 4.0.9 and CRT 4.0.9.

You can download new releases at:

For quick access to previous official releases, go to:

6. Current Releases

The following lists our latest official product releases:

VShell 2.2.2 Servers for Windows and UNIX
SecureCRT 4.0.9
SecureFX 2.1.7
Entunnel 1.0.7
CRT 4.0.9
AbsoluteFTP 2.0.5

To download any of our current releases, go to:

All VanDyke Software products may be downloaded and evaluated at no cost for 30 days. Licenses include one year of free upgrades and unlimited access to our expert technical support.

Pass it along! If you find this monthly newsletter helpful and informative, forward it to co-workers or friends, or tell them where to sign up.

What do you think?

Let us know what you think about this issue. Was the tip useful? Did you like the feature? Is there a topic you'd like to see us write about? Send us an e-mail at:


Subscription Information

VanDyke Company News is an opt-in mailing list. If you prefer not to receive e-mail like this from us, or need to change your e-mail address, go to:


VanDyke Software, AbsoluteFTP, CRT, Entunnel, SecureCRT, SecureFX, and VShell are trademarks or registered trademarks of VanDyke Software, Inc.

All other products and services mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Close Window