Jim Turner’s AD audit script ("Track Active Directory Changes,” February 2009, InstantDoc ID 100428) is pure genius. I didn't use the script exactly the way the article describes, but the ideas and concepts that Turner presents are worth 100 pages of articles I've waded through elsewhere.
Use the Right Tool
Cloud computing is just one of many tools an organization can use to handle its IT needs. Too many people think of the cloud offerings as all-or-nothing propositions. But it’s not necessary or practical to rip out the data center and move every last bit of IT into the cloud. As Jeff James reasons in his IT Pro Perspective column, “Cloud Computing” (January 2009, InstantDoc ID 100943), cloud computing might not be a good fit for large multinational organizations that are subject to strict data regulation. For smaller organizations without a formal IT staff, hosted Exchange services can be a godsend.
We’re a small manufacturing company, and if we hadn't already invested in our network hardware and software, cloud services would make a lot of sense for us. We have only about 30 users. We don't use Exchange to schedule meetings, and we don’t use public folders. We use Office, but only minimally (we used Office 97 until about 4 years ago), and we rarely share documents or collaborate with customers or vendors. There’s really no reason we couldn't use hosted Exchange services. For our Office needs, three or four people would need a local copy of Office. But the rest of us could use either a hosted Office service or Google Docs.
Businesses need to do what makes sense given their level of expertise and willingness to devote the necessary resources to a system. Most companies don’t host their own public website in house specifically because web hosting is something that lots of other providers do very well and very cheaply. Unless you have some specific need, why would you do it yourself? Move the stuff that makes sense into the cloud and keep the stuff in-house that needs to be kept in-house. As they say, "Use the right tool for the job."
A Mobile Future
In his IT Pro Perspective column, “A Mobile Future” (February 2009, InstantDoc ID 101134), Jeff James wonders how many users have asked about integrating their iPhone with the corporate IT infrastructure. In my experience, the answer is, "A lot." I work in healthcare, and I've told our hospital's Verizon sales rep to say "No" to BlackBerry and iPhone devices. In fact, the only phone that we support is the powerful, IT-ready HTC Touch Pro. Here's why:
1. Email integration. The phone integrates with our email system, with the help of Verizon's free Wireless Sync service. I don't have to maintain a BlackBerry Server, and I don't even have to muck around with our Exchange Server 2003 system to get this to work for users.
2. Citrix usability. We're a heavy Citrix shop, and Citrix doesn’t natively work on BlackBerry devices (you have to get a third-party client). The HTC Touch Pro gives VGA resolution so that doctors can securely access enterprise apps, and it's the only phone I've seen so far that can do it well.
3. General usability. The 3D Flow touch interface is very much like the iPhone's display.
4. Applications. The .NET Compact Framework is maturing, with many free apps available. And we can develop on that platform.
5. Microsoft Office document use. Let's be honest, we don't actually make documents on a cell phone. We read them. We use Office at the hospital, so we can download and read our Office documents with ease.
Corporate policy is easy to maintain with our configuration. If we feel that a phone is compromised, we can change the Active Directory (AD) password for that user. These phones don't even touch our desktop machines; if they did, we'd be worried. Also, we use the free My Mobiler for remote support if necessary.
Stick with Windows Mobile on a great device with a good carrier that offers small-scale or large-scale sync—and doesn't require much support. Don't write off the Windows Mobile phone!
B. K. Winstead’s “Establishing an Email Retention Policy: The Legal Perspective” (March 5, 2009, InstantDoc ID 101646) is a great article. My employer is about to embark on the same process—what we call the "grooming tool" for email retention. We’re going with 90 days or older for deletion out of a user's mailbox. Anything to be kept longer than 90 days needs to be stored in our email-archiving solution. After this policy burns in for a while, we’ll be deleting email content over two years old from the archive solution. Anything more than two years old that needs to be kept will have to go to our forthcoming Documentum solution.
Thanks for the feedback! Sounds like you also have a carefully considered policy going into effect. I hope you have the same kind of supportive and collaborative team that we’ve had here at Penton Media. As I mentioned in the article, the second part of the story is the interview with our IT guys, “Establishing an Email Retention Policy: The IT Perspective” (March 19, 2009, InstantDoc ID 101728).
—Brian Keith Winstead