Putting It All Together
Brian Winstead’s article, “Smartphones in the Enterprise: Opening Pandora’s Box” (July 2010, InstantDoc ID 125318), is excellent! It’s about time someone put it all together in one place. I will reference this article in day-to-day communications with management. Thank you.
I read William Lefkovics’ article, “Using the Outlook Hotmail Connector” (InstantDoc ID 125324). Most—if not all—companies feel that they own the information transmitted on personal email accounts that reside on company servers. How will having a Hotmail/Outlook synchronized account translate to proprietary rights? Will your employer now have rights to your Hotmail account just because it’s synchronized to Outlook and you choose to use Hotmail for both home and work?
Then and Now
We asked several of our longest-subscribing readers to help us celebrate our 15th anniversary by providing some business anecdotes. We wanted to gather some reflections about IT—what were the biggest challenges faced in the early days of the magazine compared with the challenges of today? Here are some of our favorite responses.
Fifteen years ago, my challenges were focused on troubleshooting OS memory shortage issues, taking action against viruses , waiting to connect via dial-up modem, and hoping the remote access server was operational. I remember bragging about how much desk space the large 15” CRT monitor occupied and dreaming about the 19” behemoth CRT. Perhaps most of all, I remember not having to worry about budgets cuts, return on investments, or compliance. Simplistically, the challenges of IT 15 years ago were focused around IT and the technologies.
Today, the challenges reflect the business, the economic state, the regulatory requirements, budgets cuts, staff reductions, the next “hot” project, reduced timeframes, and the ever-evolving pace of technology that’s increasing in depth and breadth.
—Johnie L. Perry
My biggest IT challenge when I first started working in IT was trying to keep up with new technologies such as improvements to hardware, applications, new protocols, languages, security threats, and patches—and let me tell you: Nothing has changed.
Fifteen years ago, my big challenge was making my PCs and early servers as reliable as the mini-computer they were replacing! We had just completed our transition of key applications off the mini-computer and onto our PC/LAN. Thankfully, we ran the PC/LAN environment like any other data center technology and tightly controlled the configurations of those systems. We avoided the fiasco many companies faced by letting end users make decisions about their desktop hardware and software.
Today, consumer technologies have everyone—employees, managers, senior managers—believing that technology is easy. That causes them to question why the complex technologies at our company aren’t always running smoothly, why integration is so complex, and why it costs so much to maintain. So, we spend much more time on proof-of-concept efforts, performance guarantees in contracts, and developing a cost-of-ownership estimate on every new purchase. My CFO wants to measure IT operating costs against revenue, and that doesn't turn out too well when revenues are flat but our technology appetite continues to grow.
My biggest IT challenge involved Novell 4.2—the primary network OS (IPX/SPX). Windows NT 4.0 Workstation was installed on some of my clients’ PCs, but Windows 95 was in fact the client OS. NT 4.0 Server was used on a limited basis. We faced a lot of BSOD problems on our Win95 systems and drivers (CD-ROM drivers, printer drivers, sound drivers, video drivers, 3COM Network cards).
Today, Windows Server 2008 is the OS of choice (TCP/IP). Windows 7 is the primary OS on our client computers. We have no BSOD problems due to driver issues. However, the new OS requires more RAM. The user's training requirement has been greatly reduced by a better and more intuitive GUI. Virtualization is the new sheriff in town, and it requires more thought now to implement and plan a better network.
I had two big challenges 15 years ago. The first was convincing management that Windows NT Server and its associated products were truly enterprise-ready. In 1994, I was working for a major software company whose bread and butter was NetWare. I remember one of our VPs saying, "This Microsoft thing is just a phase. Novell isn't going anywhere." Another challenge was the emerging technologies on the server side: Later, I remember being the only person at a different firm who knew anything about Windows NT, SQL Server, or Exchange Server 4.0 at the time. Everyone knew NetWare, or VMS, or some other server OS. There wasn't a huge community like we have today for collaboration, discussion, or support outside of the vendors themselves.
My single biggest challenge today is trying to keep abreast of all the new technologies. The playing field has dramatically changed in terms of how much you can absorb and know. In 1995, it was relatively easy to be fairly strong in all the core Microsoft Server technologies. Today, it's absolutely impossible because the portfolio of products has just become so vast—not to mention all the supporting technologies.
—David W. Pfister
My biggest IT challenges 15 years ago: trying to administer a mix of Solaris file servers, a DOS-based email system (GroupWise), a network of 12 PCs running mainly DOS and PC-NFS to access the NFS file systems on Sun Solaris boxes, supporting a Windows PC for graphics work (CorelDRAW! V3 I think, Windows 2.11, Apricot Qi PC), non-networked printers, serial printers connected to serial terminal servers, and an Informix-based manufacturing resource planning (MRP) system running on dumb terminals from Solaris server.
My biggest IT challenges today: trying to get current virtualization system upgraded, coping with users spread over several countries, an Oracle-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system running on Windows, networked printers, administering several versions of Windows Server, a Windows-based email system (Lotus Notes), a VoIP phone system, and users who want the old MRP system back (even after 11 years on the current system).
—Steve J. Lyons
Fifteen years ago, I was dealing with Windows NT 3.51 and software vendors who were learning that there was such a thing as a hardware abstraction layer (HAL). Following Microsoft’s API rules was just too bothersome.
Today, there are 64-bit OSs that I really need to deploy, and software are vendors are just now learning that people are insisting on native 64-bit applications. Heck, we're halfway to 128-bit OSs and some of my boutique software suppliers act as if anything beyond Windows 2000 or Windows XP is a highly advanced novelty. Windows NT 3.51 almost put me out of business, and now I'm holding a bunch of critical projects waiting for one vendor to get with the 64-bit program.
—Douglas A. Bowie
My biggest IT challenge 15 years ago was migrating legacy applications running on mini or mainframe computers to PC network-based client/server environments—that is, COBOL and 4GL language-based applications to Microsoft Access or a SQL-based relational database management system (RDBMS).
Today, my challenges include using document image management with mobile devices to streamline customer support, creating cost-effective network redundancy for business critical applications running on SQL Server, and using an MPLS network infrastructure to automatically or manually reroute traffic when a WAN node fails.
In the article, “Make SQL Server Sing on Hyper-V” (April 2010, InstantDoc ID 103658), the first sentence under the subhead Consolidated Management and VM Portability should have read, “The IT requirements to manage multiple virtual servers consolidated under a physical system are less than the IT requirements to manage multiple physical servers.” We regret the error.