Attack of the Technology Monster

— guest post by Michael Chua, Solutions Engineer —

Many of us in the IT world have been there before: we see the shiniest, newest, glitziest piece of technological wizardry and we MUST have it. We figure out a way to finagle it into the budget, network infrastructure and justify it to ourselves that this shiny, new toy will have a positive ROI very soon.

Then, reality sets in; management asks for reasoning behind the expenses and your explanation doesn’t fly. You’ve succumbed to the technology monster! You’re a technology addict and you may have just put your job at risk because of it.

Our staff has seen first-hand that the technology monster is alive and well out there – in small businesses, medium-sized firms and large corporations. Recently, we worked with a non-for-profit organization with these needs: internal networking, email, file storage, light databases, mobile workforce nothing unusual in that list. However, once our solutions team took a closer look at the environment, well — that’s when we recognized that the technology monster had been at work.

Their environment consisted of: 30+ vm servers in the VMWare environment, latest version of VMWare, clustered Exchange environment with 2 CAS and 2 DAG servers for under 100 users. Server 2008 R2 datacenter with Exchange server 2010 Enterprise, 3 physical server cluster, multi-terabyte SAN, 2 external low-terabyte NAS, BES Enterprise latest version (of course) and BB units all serviced in-house (batteries, spare parts, etc.).
The organization’s workstations used to be old Dells with Windows 2k/256 or 512 MB of RAM. But, that hardware was left behind in favor of new Intel i7 laptops with separate 1 GB video memory graphics cards, 128 or 256 GB SSDs and 8 GB of memory, which is like going from driving a Model A to a Porsche! A technology upgrade was warranted, but jumping up that many levels and going all out with the new laptops wasn’t necessary.

Why do I bring up this story? In my career that started shortly before IBM’s PC was introduced (the good old days!), the most common refrain heard from my fellow IT colleagues was “if I could get rid of the end users, my job would be perfect”. Well, that may have been the sentiment, but the reality was that without those end users, there was little need for IT support. Unfortunately, this was simply the prevailing mood at the time: technology was deployed in a vacuum and for its own sake, without a sound business case and very little input from end users.

I believe that this thinking contributed to the tech bubble in the late 1990’s, and it was a painful experience when it finally burst. However, we can look back on that time now and see that the rise and fall was necessary to bring about a significant change in IT philosophy. The result has been good for the industry; businesses and end-users now demand real benefits from their technology and expect accountability from their technology providers.

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