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Mailbag: More on innovative vs. ordinary

Jul 07, 20044 mins
Asset Management Software

* Readers continue to weigh in on the value of management software innovation

A few weeks ago, I asked readers whether they were moving toward new management initiatives or were struggling with doing just the ordinary, bread-and-butter stuff to keep their infrastructures up and running. I’ve already reported back on some of our readers’ responses, and I received more responses that I’ll share in today’s column.

One reader says other readers’ comments don’t take the bigger picture into account:

“It seems most of the folks in the IT arena using management tools are solely focused on point solutions to suffice their silo, if you will. They don’t look at the overall picture and how IT can better manage its services from a customer’s perspective. The point solutions mentioned are indeed easy to implement, use, and cost thousands less, but most of the time they are only good for managing a small subset of the various components that make up a given service in the eyes of IT’s customers. I do agree, however, that a lot of the high-end solutions available today are complex, costly, and have a high maintenance track record, but they will allow you to see the larger picture in most cases.”

As I mentioned before, having the ability to innovate requires a strong commitment to IT from upper management. Without the support and investment of the company at its highest levels, IT is relegated to the Band-Aid approach to management. This reader is fortunate to have upper management support for IT, as he relates:

“I feel somewhat lucky in this economy because the company I work for has decided to invest in one product suite to fulfill our enterprise management needs. They see the value in managing business-critical services from the end users’ perspective – being able to eventually get to a point where IT is proactive rather than fire-fighting in a reactive mode. I know this road is going to be long, frustrating, tiring, and will require more than just technology, but at least executive management is seeing the road. They may not see the same end point as I do, but it is a start.”

On the flip side, another reader shares a very different point of view:

“The real-world IT consumer side of things is run in a very political sense with more pull for large projects and funding support coming from departments and financial interests outside the computer department. This allows project implementations that almost always cost more and take more time than planned, and leaves very limited support for ‘operational’ budget items if costs are more than a few hundred dollars.”

In response to low levels of funding for IT operations, this reader advocates a different approach. Rather than buy new network management applications, he waits for new technologies that are easier to manage. He says, “New, better, less expensive equipment becomes the long-term cost-effective ‘best’ solution. It may not be worth monitoring things that never have problems. Today it would be wise to spend money on a better up-to-date router or firewall (that can be properly managed), vs. detection software that costs five to 10 times more… On Web servers, I used to monitor intruder attempts but found it occurs many times daily. We have second- and third-layer protection within a Web server, knowing that there are hacker attempts from anywhere anytime. Recovery is planned and ready if needed on a second fallback remote system, and no important or sensitive data is kept outside the firewall or within the DMZ.” 

He goes on to say that “Microsoft has released XP SP2 RC2 that makes Windows XP like it was always advertised to actually work. Do you need to have two firewalls on a Windows XP system? Technology is advancing! Many problems that sometimes seem to be long-term or permanent are not.” He also says, “Spending time and money on expensive packages designed to ‘improve’ management is not attractive… I have seen in all areas of life that ‘quality time spent performing actual work’ has been the real solution to progress.”

These are very different points of view and very different approaches to management. I enjoyed hearing from each reader who sent in ideas. It’s clear that each IT organization is unique, and all IT shops are not alike. Many thanks to all of our readers who shared their opinions with me, and agreed to let me share them with all of you.