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IT Departments Need Patching

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October 08, 2012

IT Departments Need Patching

By Mae Kowalke
TMCnet Contributor

Every business leader and career-minded professional knows that running from fire to fire is no way to get ahead; while overcoming crisis is a basic part of business life, putting out fires all the time leaves little room for setting an agenda and reaching specific goals.

Yet this is the trap that corporate IT often falls into, according to a recent blog post by InformationWeek’s Eric Lundquist. Citing this issue as a common theme at the Interop (News - Alert) conference in New York this week, Lundquist wrote that IT must move beyond its cycle of spending all its time repairing broken systems so it can spend more time on setting the agenda.

“If you can't get out of being the break-fix department, you will see your budget and your status in the company disappear,” Lundquist wrote.

He laid out four ways that corporate IT departments can move beyond their role of glorified repair department.

First, it is import to develop a single, solid network infrastructure that supports the demands of modern corporate IT: BYOD, bandwidth availability on demand for any application and security.

“Unless you can develop a single network umbrella strategy, I don't see how you will ever get out of the break-fix dilemma,” noted Lundquist.

One way to help get the network under control is with a solution such as ZoHo’s ManageEngine. It is an integrated systems management suite that helps take care of the complete data center and IT lifecycle, including automatic network discovery and inventory tracking, OS imaging, unified IT infrastructure, incident management, capacity planning, etc.

Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) and Cisco, among others, also champion a unified network approach and have services to meet that need.

Second, Lundquist wrote, it is important to develop all new applications with cloud computing at the heart, not as a component or add-on.

He noted a shift to applications of engagement where the cloud is a platform to create mobile, social, and analytical applications: “These engagement applications differ from traditional enterprise transactional applications in that they are designed to largely take place outside the traditional enterprise confines and focus on collaboration.”

Testing a firm’s IT security against cloud offerings is another way to advance beyond the fix-break cycle.

“Holding security close would seem to make sense,” he noted, but “best security practices are the same whether you are doing it on premises or using the cloud model.” He suggested taking a look at cloud service provider’s security policies and capabilities and see if they meet or exceed those of the IT department--which they might. It might make sense to rely on the cloud more.

Finally, IT departments should make sure that they are contributing to the company’s brand and growth, not just servicing the company. Google (News - Alert) CIO, Ben Fried, argued at Interop this week that companies should give employees the best personal systems based on their choices of vendor, operating system, and applications. Workers are valuable resources, so it makes little sense to give a Mac fan an old Windows Vista laptop instead of the Apple (News - Alert) machine that will enable him to be more productive.

A big step, perhaps, but it is important that IT departments take a more proactive and transformative role in the workplace.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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