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IT management nightmares

IT management nightmares begin when something beyond IT's control puts the company at risk

Network/Systems Management Alert By Denise Dubie, Network World
November 14, 2007 12:04 AM ET
Denise Dubie
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The older I get, the more often nightmares happen during the day and when I am fully awake -- and they always happen at work.

I long for the days of hiding under the covers from the imagined monster in the closet -- partly because those covers were impenetrable and I was safe as long as I didn't move. Now my nightmares happen in broad daylight -- or under the harsh reality of fluorescent lighting -- with no covers to be found and consist of public humiliation and cringe-worthy events from which I have no escape. Such incidents range from misspellings or inaccuracies turning up in articles stamped with my byline to flubbing lines on a podcast or even worse at a public speaking engagement. Now sometimes those errors and flubs are entirely my fault and sometimes they are not, but the true underlying fault never reduces the number of shudders my body experiences each time such mishaps occur. Knowing I was not the root cause of an error or mishap does not relieve my horror that something under my domain of responsibility went awry. The one comfort is that typically errors attributed to me as a journalist don't take down the entire company.

IT managers don't have it that easy. Their nightmares play out before their eyes and often through no fault of their own -- yet the blame still falls on IT when the network goes down. This past summer I felt I shared in a universal IT management nightmare when I read an article published by The Wall Street Journal. Fellow Network World columnists M.E. Kabay and Linda Musthaler also experienced the upset that the article - "Ten Things Your IT Department Won't Tell You" - would induce in anyone in or adjacent to the IT industry.

Speaking with hackers, the author details workarounds to several IT security and/or management policies put in place to protect corporate assets. Following such procedures would put networks at risk. The article is extremely irresponsible in the same way that eating disorder or suicide Web sites are when the pages offer information that people looking to do harm to themselves could use. Advising nontechnical people to circumvent the policies put in place to protect corporate intellectual property and employees' or customers' personal information is dangerous. And it will lead to less savvy individuals following the tips and unwittingly putting themselves at risk. Even though the article's author followed up with a pro-IT piece, putting such information out there is an act that cannot be recalled.

In our community forum, a lot of IT executives and professionals commented on the dangers of such information being publicly distributed. I imagine it could cause nightmares for many in IT. I am curious what other issues could be considered IT management nightmares in which something beyond IT's control puts their companies at risk and causes network managers to work harder to prevent operational or security mishaps. Feel free to share with me anonymously.

Editor's note: Starting the week of Nov. 19, you will notice a number of enhancements to Network World newsletters that will provide you with more resources and more news links relevant to the newsletter's subject. The Network/Systems Management newsletter written by Network World Senior Editor Denise Dubie will be merged with the Network/Systems News Alert and will be named the Network/Systems Alert. You'll get Denise's analysis of the network/systems management market, which you will be able to read in full at NetworkWorld.com, plus links to the day's network/systems management news and other relevant resources. This Alert will be mailed on Mondays and Wednesdays. We hope you will enjoy the enhancements and we thank you for reading Network World newsletters.

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

Schultz is a longtime IT journalist. You can email her or find her here.

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