CIO Perspective: Your IT Department Cannot Go Alone Anymore

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As I have discussed in my previous articles, IT is undergoing structural changes in the last two-three years. Cloud computing, Big Data and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are the three major changes in the corporate IT. Even virtualization is old news.

On the other hand, corporate IT department is struggling with its current workload. Servers are still virtualized (and so are the networks), there are a lot of projects continuing in parallel, there is no decrease in user support calls, not counting the wizardry of keeping hundreds of systems running together to support various business requirements. The burden of the 100% availability requirement from the users is further increasing the stress.

Yet, the board asks to implement the developments as soon as possible to hold on to the competition.

The current conditions the corporate IT departments are working require disparate skills. Even in large IT departments, it is not easy to find the skills right away to employ on the different projects. Smaller IT departments are struggling with the upkeeping of the systems, managing current user requirements and supporting projects. As expectations change, and almost always increase, simply hiring more people does not help.

Fortunately, there are solutions.

First, there should be strict governance. In the current situation of the overworked, understaffed, overloaded IT department, the requests pour in. IT takes the requests, prioritizes, plans and implements them according to its schedule and the severity of the request. In many cases, the IT department simply leaves the requirement alone and wait for the requester to escalate it, until the priority is changed from the management. In some cases, the IT rushes to requests which people “scream” the most. The result is a long list of high priority requests, negative reputation and unhappy users.

This is utter chaos. The only solution is having strict governance and sticking to it. In order to define what is important at what level, it is important that  all departments across the organization agree on the priorities. If an incident can wait for 1 day, it is not a severity A incident. When all the departments agree on that, more than half of the work is done. The next step is to implement it.

Governance is critical. If you don’t have governance in your organization, one of the building blocks of serious IT management is missing. If you think that governance cannot be implemented in your organization, know that your future life will be much more difficult than today.

Second, have your best practices for project management. You can have project offices, project people doing their work in your organization but this does not mean that smaller companies who cannot afford such a project management is doomed to fail. Project management is about doing things in a structured, defined way. There is no reason why you cannot have your structure and your definition in your company (within logical and sensible limits and within common sense of course). As a beginning, make sure that everyone receives basic training on project management.

Third, think about partnerships. If you are to implement a new software – say Exchange 2013 -, think about partnering with an outside organization for implementation and partnering with another organization to receive Exchange 2013 training. If you think that implementation is a one-time issue and administration is ongoing, you can find that there could be many benefits of such a partnership: you will not put the additional burden of implementation to your mail administrators, you will make sure that your mail admins are not bogged with the e-mail migration, you will make sure that they receive proper training to do their job and you will make sure that your users will receive a better e-mail service.

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Fourth, rethink about your IT services. Maybe it is all about doing the things as you were doing before? Think if you really need to keep lots of servers and storage systems running in your data center just to deliver a simple email service, while there are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions available at very low prices in the market, such as Office 365 and Google Apps? Think if you really can make some capital investment today to modernize your data center and initiate a move to the private cloud?

It is obvious that from a different point of there are more alternatives to managing the current IT workload and there are more strategic partnership options. However, everything starts with governance. Without IT governance in place, the in-company chaos cannot be stopped and the partners cannot be managed. Once the governance is in place (and I am a heavy proponent of implementing ITIL processes), I believe that the IT services can be carried out, expanded and even polished without overwhelming the IT staff.

References

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THN-Labor Department Consolidates Data with BYTEGRID

Posted by: Admin  :  Category: Web Hosting News

(The Hosting News) – The U.S. Department of Labor is moving forward with plans to consolidate its data center infrastructure via a facility from BYTEGRID.

The move was made possible by a government contract with Lockheed Martin.

“We are pleased to provide the critical data center infrastructure and innovative incenter cloud bursting, meeting all key government standards for security compliance,” commented BYTEGRID Executive VP Don Goodwin via a press release.

The initial contract is set for 7 years and transitions the Department of Labor’s data from D.C. facilities to a 214 square foot location in Maryland.

“BYTEGRID’s secure, FISMA-compliant facility met all contractual requirements, enabling our team to support DOL’s mission needs,” stated Lockheed Martin’s Lynn Singleton when commenting on his company’s approval of BYTEGRID.

The data re-consolidation effort comes as part of an overall initiative aimed at cutting down on costs and infrastructure size. BYTEGRID aims its data center services towards financial, healthcare, government and media institutions.

Source: Labor Department Consolidates Data with BYTEGRID

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Is the Cloud Really a Threat to the IT Department?

Posted by: Admin  :  Category: Web Hosting

The cloud, being one of the major IT transformations for the past couple of years, has been a big bandwagon for the merchants to jump on. You see marketing materials everywhere, especially with the interactive cost calculators that immediately tell you the savings involved. If you look at these cloud calculators closely, you will see that the main cost reduction comes from the savings from the manpower costs. Of course, when you are hosting your datacenter in the cloud you will no longer have an on premises datacenter, which in turn means that you do not need a person to manage your servers. This perspective implicitly concludes that the cloud will be the end of the IT department. And following the same logic, the only place that the current IT people can work will be the cloud providers’ datacenters.

Back to the reality.

No IT

Although the cloud vendors’ promote the “no IT” idea, marketing materials say, it is simply not true.

The assumptions lying behind the marketing materials and the cost calculators are simply not true. Especially some so untrue to the point that even the cloud vendors explicitly voice them or by  implicitly accepting them in the cloud contracts.

Let’s start with backup. Almost none of the cloud contracts provide you with backup solutions. The only backup that will be taken by the cloud provider is the backup for their own needs: to restore everything in the event of a hardware or system failure in the datacenter. But this has nothing to do with your data: your data’s responsibility is solely your problem. Of course, the cloud vendors offer you with backup/restore options but unless you explicitly put it in your contract, nobody will be backing up your data. Believe it or not, more than 95% of the companies forget backups of their servers running in the cloud. That means, you need at least a backup administrator to take care of your data.

The next issue is the security issue. Hosting your data in somebody’s datacenter means that someone else will be thinking about security matters. That someone else will be placing your servers behind a firewall, will be setting up intrusion prevention systems, will be setting up proxies for you. You cannot be more wrong than this. The cloud provider will setup the server and the remote connection and send you the details. As soon as your server is up and running, it is open to threats on the Internet, meaning that you need to setup a security infrastructure even before you deploy servers in the cloud. And, you will need someone to set up and maintain all these for you.

You may argue that these all may be the case with the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution but not applicable to the Software-as-a-Service solution. At least this is the logic when you think will happen when/if you move your infrastructure to Google Apps or Office 365. Again, this is far from the truth. Suppose that you are moving to Office 365. You have to be migrating your existing Active Directory infrastructure, e-mails, file servers, access control lists, certificate revocation lists, password policies, backup policies and many other things that are already present in your current infrastructure. Not only the current infrastructure; you also need to think about the future: what will you do when someone leaves the company and when someone else is employed? What will be the policies, e-mail redirections, access control management?

There are also other questions ahead, such as managing IT assets, deploying updates to company issued desktops, laptops and mobile devices, managing mobile data, managing IT support, analyzing support issues, and all other daily IT tasks.

When you move your datacenter to the cloud, what you are doing essentially is getting rid of your current IT capital investments and electricity consumption. The move to the cloud is not eliminating or threatening the IT jobs: your IT department will more or less exactly work the same way as if you have an on-premise datacenter (although there also changes ahead for the IT department). Just as the developers are thinking different with their applications by moving them from the desktop to the web and to the mobile, the IT department will be employing different ways of thinking for managing the infrastructure.

References:

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