IT Managers on the Rack
The current period is a very exciting and busy time in IT (the euphemism is challenging). For IT managers it can feel like being stretched on rack in many directions at the same time. Here are some of the dimensions on which IT managers are stretched and squashed. Welcome to the IT “Torture” chamber – pain or pleasure?
Stretched on the x axis (width/ Scale)
IT managers are used to increases in scale – year on year increase in the quantity of devices to accommodate. In education almost all staff have their own computer and many have more than one e.g. desktop, laptop and smartphone. We add extra student computers and IT suites each year and now consider extending the personal computing idea to students – providing students with laptops under various schemes and starting to accommodate their own equipment.
Stretched on the z axis (depth/scope)
We no longer talk about digital convergence – these days almost everything is digital – almost everything is mediated by IT. IT managers have to accommodate an increasing range of hardware and software for all manner of applications – from standard computing to multimedia, video conferencing, web 2 and users own equipment. We also need to accommodate remote access for increasing amounts of distance learning, home working and collaboration – IT access anyplace, anytime 24/7 more, more, more.
Stretched on the y axis (height – past and present)
The dimensional analogy is breaking down here but think of the poor IT manager’s feet anchored to “legacy” systems and arms pulled in the opposite direction by new and developing systems. As the years pass we have to add more and more systems to our support and operational skillset . We have to maintain these “legacy” systems while changing the infrastructure that supports them (hardware, software and compatibility issues) while remembering how to sort out their problems. For anythijg that is installed we have to deal with constant updates (security and reliability patches/service packs, extensions, additions etc). We also have to deal with the demands for the latest hardware and software – how to install, operate, secure, maintain and integrate them with existing systems.
Compressed on the t axis (Time) – running faster on the wheel
We need to deliver more and deliver it quicker – turnaround times everywhere are getting shorter. There is a kind of positive feedback loop – IT development is getting faster and as society is mediated by IT then timeframes in society get shorter – “faster is the new fast”
While having to do more and do it quicker we have at the same time to ensure the reliability and security of IT systems. Society depends more and more on IT – downtime is less tolerated than it used to be and the consequences of downtime more significant. While society is increasingly mediated by IT so all the issues in society are also mediated by IT – crime, vandalism etc – while we are ever more dependent on IT the security of IT is harder to maintain.
So when accessing data systems while sipping coffee in an Internet cafe please bear a thought for your poor IT manager down in the IT torture chamber – coping with extending access while at the same time securing data and maintaining reliability.
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