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During 2002 it was becoming increasingly evident that our data integrity processes, in particular on our project sites, were inadequate and we were considerably exposed should the loss of a mission critical server occur.

For a long time now we have run a national private computer network, based predominantly on Optus Frame Relay and ATM with some Telstra On Ramp, mainly for redundancy. The network topology has been based on a “hub and spoke” model where Head Office, which hosts the data centre and provides our only gateway into the Internet, is the central hub, the branch offices are secondary hubs and the projects are on the perimeter, coming and going as the business dictates. Naturally as reliance on the network grows, and network traffic increases, the communication links in this network have expanded to meet the need.

Conclusion: The surge in use of electronic mail in many organisations is an ongoing management concern. Managers consistently tell me they receive well in excess of 100 emails a day, all of which have to be read, contents absorbed and in some cases a response developed. The problem is compounded in organisations that handle business transactions and correspondence by email as the audit trail can become evidentiary material.

Whilst tools exist to minimise impact of unsolicited email and detect viruses contained in Emails, few facilities are available to reduce the workload of the conscientious business professional receiving legitimate and non personal emails.

Conclusion: Linux has its place(s) in the SME organisation now, and clear evidence for reduced cost can be demonstrated. However, in more complex environments, the costs of commodity hardware and operating systems are small compared to the costs of ISV software and support and the use of Linux will be harder to warrant before 2005. Linux and other open source software offerings need to be evaluated rigorously before committing your organisations directions this way, as the vendor hype does not yet match reality for the SME.

The distributed nature of our business, and the centralised model for IT, dictates that we will constantly face the challenge of providing adequate bandwidth to projects in remote areas to enable them to effectively utilise the appropriate corporate systems run in the data centre, utilise email and connect to the Internet. Some sites are so remote that telecommunications infrastructure is a distant and unattainable dream. We generally try to service these sites through satellite connections which tend to be both expensive and slow, and generally cannot provide the required level of service. This is changing slowly however, and we are trialing both Telstra and Optus products with a view to implementing either solution for remote sites that do not have the necessary infrastructure.

Conclusion: The Enterprise Architect faces three major unrelated challenges today. They are to:

  • Keep the architecture or standards viable when the technology options are changing continuously

  • Sustain Executive commitment to the standards when the benefits are not immediately apparent

  • Stay informed of technology developments and advocate its adoption in advance of it proving to be a ‘winner’

The ideal person for the role is someone who is intellectually curious, politically aware and able to sell their ideas. To succeed the architect needs to gain the trust of their Executive, have access to vendors and early adopters of emerging technology and an awareness of business imperatives.

While the intense competition in the PC market has benefited technology buyers in the form of lower capital costs, it has forced vendors into tighter product cycles and a frantic pace of incremental technological advancements with high-perceived but little real value to users. Corporate technology buyers of both desktop and laptop systems should focus efforts on achieving within their PC fleet a balance of meaningful technological aggressiveness and stability. They should also be increasingly vigilant in their assessment of the benefits of new technologies. Those organisations that do not take steps to understand vendor product transition processes and assess the impact on support will quickly develop a more complex mix of installed PCs than necessary. Escalating costs (driven by the uncontrolled installation of poorly understood technologies) will also be become a concern.

IM represents a new tool for business communication and collaboration – additional to the traditional forms of communication, particularly e-mail and voice. Paradoxically, IM is the personal communication of the impersonal digital world, and as such it requires its own unique set of corporate IM guidelines.

Conclusion: Server consolidation has become widespread as budget pressure is maintained and corporate mergers and reorganisations continue. Although the overwhelming majority of consolidation projects are viewed as successful (at least in terms of the reduction in number of servers) when failures occur it is usually because of poor planning. Vendor endorsed programs often appear very attractive, but unless the full implications of your particular environment are taken into account the only goal that will be met is the vendor’s revenue target.

Conclusion: In today’s business climate in which discretionary capital is scarce, CIOs, or equivalent, need to be confident and able to convince the Executive they can deliver the benefits expected in proposals to invest in IT Infrastructure1. To meet the needs of stakeholders when real time services are at stake, the arguments must be compelling and presented in a way that leaves the Executive no alternative but to approve the proposal.

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