The change imperative

Some 400 of your peers gathered at Network World's IT Roadmap show in Chicago last week to discuss everything from cloud plans to iPad support, flat network options and Windows 7 migration.

Key take-away: Things are changing fast.

Consider cloud. In a panel discussion with Chad Eckes, CIO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America; Karthikeyan Chakkarapani, IT director of technology solutions and operations at American Hospital Association; Rob Zelinka, former director of infrastructure at TTX, and Tomasz Chowanski, IT leader of shared-services security architecture at GE Capital, I asked if anyone had solid cloud plans. As it turns out, all of them are already doing some cloud computing.

THE AGENDA: How to get started with cloud computing

So I asked the audience to show by raising their hands how many would be doing something with cloud this year. Three-quarters of them waved.

How about allowing employees to access social media sites? All of the panel members said "check," and three-quarters of the audience agreed. When I asked the audience if their companies allowed it a year ago, half the hands dropped.

Anyone still trying to fight off iPads and other employee-owned gadgets? The panel said no, but added qualifiers. Chakkarapani said Citrix and other tools make it pretty easy to accommodate tablets, but the speakers were in general agreement about needing controls that let you manage the devices, guard against data loss, and wipe them if you need too.

Chowanski said that once you spell all of that out for users, many think twice about seeking 'Net access. People don't like the idea of the company being able to see everything on their gizmos and, worse, the prospect of losing their photos, videos, music and other files.

Speaking of network endpoints, the session on migrating to Windows 7 and Office 2010 drew a standing room-only crowd. With XP set to sunset in 2014, W7 migration will really heat up this year because implementation can take 14 to 18 months in a big shop, said speaker Sevan Muradian, senior product marketing manager at Dell KACE.

A detailed inventory is critical before you get going, Muradian said, and audience polling proved what he attested: Most people don't have a good handle on the hardware in their shops, let alone the desktop software floating around.

One big pitfall to be aware of: the need to do regression testing on all the Excel macros that departments have built to support their processes.

As young as the year is, it looks to be shaping up as one for great change in IT. Join the conversation at an IT Roadmap coming to a town near you (Denver next month and Boston in June).

Learn more about this topic

iPads storm the enterprise

2011 tech priorities: Embrace social media

5 tips for a smooth Windows 7 migration

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.