From the August 2010 Issue
Technology is getting more complex to select, install and maintain, and the
skills required to do so properly are becoming greater. Even very small networks
take refined skill to install properly. When your servers, desktop computers
or laptops are not set up properly, your productivity is reduced. In many cases,
you may not even know that your setup or configuration is wrong. We find users
who believe that since the technology has always worked a certain way, that
is how it is supposed to work. Let’s look at technology deployment and
how this changes the skills needed by your organization.
WE SEE THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS FOR INSTALLING APPLICATIONS ON COMPUTERS:
1) Standalone computers,
2) Peer to peer networks,
3) Traditional networks with one or more servers,
4) Networks with most or all servers virtualized,
5) Software as a Service (SaaS) or Cloud Computing in use, and
6) Hosted applications in a data center, not to mention smartphone support and installation.
The skill set to maintain each of these scenarios varies widely from highly technical to almost completely non-technical. One of the most important decisions you can make this year is how you decide to install your technology. Hosted applications and/or cloud computing have become price competitive with in-house strategies. Simple virtualization of servers is less expensive than installing traditional networks. Complex or high availability virtualization is more expensive than traditional networks because of the cost of the sophisticated Storage Area Network (SAN) technology.
For some organizations, it is less expensive to host a server in a data center
than it is to buy the server(s) and SAN technology. Hosting in the cloud takes
different IT skills whether you are using in-house IT people or outsourced IT
providers. Hosted or cloud computing can result in less total cost of ownership
than traditional or virtualized servers in-house in addition to be more readily
available from remote locations.
WE SEE TECHNICIANS IN THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:
2) Inept, but believe themselves to be competent,
3) Incompetent, and convince others they are competent,
4) Competent, and convince others around them they are an expert,
5) Competent, and a poor communicator, so they rarely accomplish the right task correctly,
6) Competent, but stuck in doing things the way they know how,
7) Competent, progressive and communicative…the best of all worlds,
8) Uncontrolled…will take unnecessary risks without thinking through the situation.
These descriptions can apply to both in-house IT or outsourced IT people, in addition to being a generic description of many people’s performance in their jobs. A workable solution in today’s market may be to outsource all of your IT needs to managed IT providers who specialize in maintaining your network. Establishing your needs and explaining your expectations are key to these relationships working properly. Outsourced IT can often be less expensive than maintaining internal IT people. You will typically need at least 25 users before you can justify a single IT person on staff.
Surely not all possibilities of installing applications or the skills of IT personnel have been named above. You can see from each of the lists that there are a number of scenarios that can play out that would wind up producing a bad result for your organization. The more complex your technology, the greater skill set you need to complete your IT work. Unlike accounting skills, it is very hard to judge how competent IT people are at completing the work. Computing installation is part science and part art. There are 10+ right ways to do things, but there are hundreds of wrong ways to implement technology.