To get ahead, network and data-center professionals should study up on "infrastructure as code" and capitalize on whatever cloud experience they can acquire.
Stories by Denise Dubie
CIOs who survived 2009, during which IT budgets dropped by 8 percent on average, don't expect to see business recover or IT dollars return immediately in 2010. They do, however, intend to makeover IT departments as leaner, more lightweight entities ready to respond to business needs, according to Gartner research released Tuesday.
A survey of 1,600 CIOs worldwide shows that while many speculate economic conditions will recover, 41 percent of IT leaders globally are planning for "continued business contraction." Worldwide, 53 percent expect to see stabilisation in 2010, and 6 percent expect to see growth.
Technical skills may never die, but areas of expertise wane in importance as technology advances force companies to evolve and IT staff to forsake yesterday's craft in favor of tomorrow's must-have talent.
Most people have an image in their minds of the ideal work environment, tailored to meet their financial, intellectual and social needs, but a majority of people probably don't leave their homes every day expecting to work in that fantasy realm. Yet recent survey results suggest that young IT workers might not be able to distinguish reality from fantasy when they enter the workplace.
Recently a staffing firm revealed that a majority of IT managers cited employees between the ages of 18 and 31 as the biggest challenge in terms of retention. The topic raised the question: Is IT behind the times in its expectations of young talent? Or as the survey suggests: Are workers just entering the workforce disillusioned about the reality of today's IT-related employment options?
IT professionals have strong opinions about the reasons behind today's IT hiring and retention challenges, but most don't think young, inexperienced workers are at the root of the problem.
The success of SOA within any organization depends on the appropriate management, according to industry watchers who say SOA will change the traditional management paradigm and require vendors and IT managers to update their approaches. For instance, the loosely coupled nature of SOA services will demand updated technology -- tools that can follow the application components from system to system without being tied to one physical server.
There are plenty of reasons to streamline IT processes using best-practice frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library. But that doesn't make it any easier to do.
"You hear a lot of people talk about how standardising processes and adopting best practices in IT is just common sense. And it is," said Rafael Rodriguez, associate CIO of academic and infrastructure services at Duke Health Technology Solutions, part of Duke Medicine in Durham, N.C. "But it's hard for me to follow a good, healthy lifestyle. It's not because I don't know what to do, [but because] it requires cultural change and that can be the hardest thing to effect."
Software agents -- long seen as a necessary evil by those securing and managing servers, desktops and other endpoint devices -- have proliferated to the point of polluting enterprise environments.
As appliances proliferate across data centers and branch offices, network managers are questioning whether the benefits of these specialized devices outweigh the management burden they create.
“The appliance form factor is very appealing, but there is a point at which there are just too many appliances. You can have a limited amount of rack space, and for the most part, the goal is to reduce the number of devices you have to manage,” says Koie Smith, IT administrator at Jackson, Tenn., law firm Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell.
IBM this week announced upgraded software that the company says will let enterprise IT managers automatically distribute application workloads across multiple servers as well as process batch and long-running jobs with spare capacity.
For Martin Webb, upgrading the network to support new IP-based applications and then adequately managing them can be like taking one step forward and two steps back. As technologies such as VoIP emerge to advance his network, the tools to manage them are falling behind, says Webb, who is manager of data network operations for the province of British Columbia, in Victoria.
"Network management technologies are fairly well positioned to tell you if the device is available, and report on traffic in and out, utilization and errors," Webb says. "The problem is, they only give you visibility into how you believe your traffic is flowing. Management products now need to understand how the network routing functions and to see changes to the routing in real time."
IBM invests about US$1 billion per year in its strategic service oriented-architecture technologies. The company has been busy this year, focusing on technologies that could become part of customer SOA rollouts. For example, Big Blue recently unveiled a version of its WebSphere software with updated SOA capabilities and offered free access to online training to help customers build SOA. And this month IBM partnered with Microsoft to turn over to a standards body a key set of Web services security specifications that could enable the trusted exchange of data between partners. Michael Liebow, vice president of Web Services and SOA at IBM Global Services, took the time to speak with Network World Senior Editor Denise Dubie about why IBM deems SOA so critical to the company's and its customers' computing future.
What is IBM's take on SOA?
Security management vendors next week will unveil products to help security managers enforce compliance policies across their networks.
A recent Network World Virtual Showdown, "How best to patch," drew six vendors together in a weeklong debate that ultimately concluded patch management is best viewed as one facet of a larger security strategy.
Among the six vendors invited to the debate -- Altiris Inc., BigFix Inc., Citadel Security Software Inc., Configuresoft Inc., Shavlik Technologies LLC and Symantec Corp. -- all but Shavlik argued that patching should be integrated with technologies that take into account asset, configuration, compliance and vulnerability management.
As users scramble to scrimp and save by putting applications on low-cost blade servers, they are increasingly looking for more sophisticated ways to manage, provision and automate these new environments.
Blade servers - high-density, low-power blade computers - have emerged in the past two years as a less-expensive and space-saving option for corporate users looking to build scalable and redundant data centers. Server blades come in the form of single boards one-eighth the size of a typical 1U server and consume up to 12 times less power.