CIO Symmetry

A SearchCIO Small Business blog


June 20, 2011  7:58 PM

Load your iPhone 4 and iPad 2 with powerful database-building apps



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
CIO, disaster recovery, iPad 2, iPhone business apps, mobility, VAAI

Now that summer is officially here, you’ve undoubtedly been busy covering for vacationing co-workers or trying to squeeze a few hours of R&R in for yourself. Here’s a quick rundown of the best of the blogs, in easy, bite-sized pieces, including the scoop on iPhone 4 and iPad 2 rumblings, an entertaining look at disaster recovery and tips to appease your inner Inspector Gadget.

June 17, 2011  1:55 PM

If you’re worried about business alignment, you’re doing it wrong



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
business alignment, business process management, IT/business alignment, IT/Business Leadership, Leadership and Strategy

Why is IT so concerned with business alignment? That’s the question that Dr. Michael Ali, CIO at Harman, asked during his Forrester IT Forum keynote that left many of the IT professionals in the audience stumped. It seems like a no-brainer, right? IT is a different animal — anyone in IT will tell you that. But many business units will be quick to argue that they too are different — and special: Why aren’t they spending as much time and energy worrying about business alignment as we are?

Ali said he did a Web search and found many IT publications like SearchCIO-Midmarket.com focused on business alignment, but only a single mention of the term business alignment in the publications of other business revenue streams such as human resources and marketing.

“The right question is not ‘How do you ensure IT is aligned with the business?’ It’s ‘How do we generate business value?’ Because that’s what the head of HR is asking. They already assume they’re aligned. This is the question that you should be asking,” said Ali during the keynote.

Ali’s biggest tip is that CIOs should stop thinking like CIOs and think like CEOs instead — focusing on growing revenues and profits while staying legal and being a good corporate citizen. The key to generating business value, he added, is in allying with the right partners and making strategic leaps, such as getting away from owning IT architecture and instead own the architecting of said systems.

This call to action was echoed by Forrester Research Principal Analyst Marc Cecere, who warns that “IT is in danger of being perceived as irrelevant to the business.” With consumers feeling more and more comfortable with making technological decisions, and with younger workers empowered to download their own solutions off the grid, I humbly suggest that we’re seeing the stirrings of a coup that will change the face of business. That transition is going to be measured, not in decades but in fiscal quarters. It’s Moore’s Law; only instead of hardware, it’s a mental leap for your workforce.

The message is clear: Stop worrying about business alignment and worry about the burgeoning IT revolution. Now the choice is yours: Lead, follow or get out of the way.


June 16, 2011  2:13 PM

Public-sector CIOs leading IT transformation



Posted by: Scot Petersen
Business process automation, CIO, cloud computing

I’m not sure about you, but my first impression of government’s use of technology is that they are still working off VAX computers and dumb terminals. But, really, it’s quite the contrary. Here are some leaders of IT transformation working in the public sector:

  • Vivek Kundra, the CIO of the U.S. — the first CIO of the U.S., I might add — is an enthusiastic supporter of cloud computing. Unfortunately, he has just announced that he is leaving his post in August.
  • Ed Bell, the interim CIO serving the House and Senate of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, has interesting ideas about business process automation, as we have written about in the past on SearchCIO.com.

“The CIO’s role is to help drive and nurture innovation and help the organization to understand realities … and find possibilities,” said Jackson. “It all starts with a business process or business engagement model, and you are wrapping technology around that.”


June 13, 2011  5:14 PM

TrueCrypt and Dropbox go together like peanut butter and chocolate



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
Apple, CIO, data security, Google, social networking

We’ve scoured the Web and compiled a crib sheet for the best and most interesting tidbits from around the IT blogosphere last week, including using TrueCrypt and Dropbox for data encryption, the Twitter API and the age-old debate of Google vs. Apple. Here’s what you might have missed:

There was some concern that a recent OAuth update in Twitter’s API would now allow third-party Twitter applications to access your private messages without authorization. Twitter attempted to soothe our worried brows over the possible loss of DM privacy, but we’re still twitchy over the whole thing.

Google vs. Apple: Which techno megagiant is cooler? It’s like asking whether Gandalf could beat Obi-Wan in a fight — does it really matter?

Everyone’s heard of an upside-down mortgage, but what about an upside-down workforce — millennials have difficulty finding jobs because the baby boomers won’t retire.

If you’re like most people, you subscribe to Groupon’s emails but have never actually bought a Groupon. We wonder how many of that 18% of buyers are actually using their Groupons before they expire?

One of our favorite personal IT bloggers, Jason Fitzpatrick, explores readers’ favorite tips and tricks for encrypting data. No surprises there –TrueCrypt and Dropbox are popular conjoined services.

About 1% of Citibank customers’ names, credit card numbers, mailing and email addresses were exposed to hackers last month, but Citibank chose not to reveal the breach to the public until last week, drawing harsh responses from industry experts. On the heels of Epsilon, Sony and Gmail, one has to wonder who is next. Hopefully not TrueCrypt and Dropbox!


June 10, 2011  1:25 PM

Living with the toys of Generation Y in the workplace



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
application management, CIO

There’s a scene in the old movie Network when Peter Finch’s character screams “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” which then inspires the rest of the nation to realize that they, too, are not going to take it anymore. A quieter version of that scene from Network is happening right now with Generation Y in the workplace.

You know those folks on your team who are under 30? Well, 34% of them admit to downloading unsanctioned applications and tools to do their jobs, said Forrester analyst Stephanie Moore at the 2011 Forrester IT Forum a few weeks ago. And I have to say, it’s not just Generation Y (20- and 30-somethings) in the workplace making these decisions to go rogue. Even Moore admitted to turning to her Gmail after she exceeded her corporate email inbox limit. In my previous life, I regularly witnessed managers downloading rogue software that either circumvented IT regulations and limitations or completely broke corporate policy. Let’s face it: We’re in the age of “prosumerization,” which means that if the business makes it difficult to get our job done, we’re going to find a way to get it done ourselves. People are unwilling to jump through hoops anymore, not when the wealth of the Internet and an easy download are just a browser window away.

On some level, this is inspiring. After all, by 2020, more than half of your workforce will consist of Generation Y or younger. Should CIOs push against this trend of self-provisioning, or should they take advantage of this level of self-reliance and build a solution that includes some vendor management and tracking for all of the weird little one-off licenses and software patches? It’s really a tough call, but it will be interesting to see which path the industry chooses to follow as teams become younger.

Do you alter your management style when you’re dealing with Generation X vs. the Millennials? The comments want to hear your solutions.


June 7, 2011  4:30 PM

Outsourcing services need the right mix of commodity and strategy



Posted by: Scot Petersen
CIO, outsourcing services

Discover Card has made a celebrity out of “Peggy,” but despite the credit card provider’s efforts to humorously discredit outsourcing services in former Soviet Bloc countries, Ukraine is seeing steady growth in software outsourcing services, according to our sister publication in the United Kingdom, ComputerWeekly.com.

CW reports that the Ukrainian Hi-Tech Initiative, an outsourcing software development alliance, estimates that the country’s outsourcing industry grew 20% in 2010, and that Ukraine employs more than 18,000 IT specialists, up 2,400 over last year. To CW’s U.K. readers, Ukraine is now a new “nearshoring” hot spot, over countries like India, which is more than 3,000 miles further east.

Closer to home, in-country outsourcing is the preferred resource for insurance provider PURE, which is fueling growth through a “selective outsourcing” strategy that puts its security email delivery services for policy holder communication in the hands of OneShield and Striata, and to M5 Networks for its telecom services.

Whatever the services or wherever they are based, PURE CIO Stuart Tainsky has the right approach: Any IT function or service that has become commoditized should be outsourced; anything strategic or essential to business requirements stays in-house. That’s because “our people will know the business more than our vendor will,” he said.

It seems outsourcing has finally grown up. Gone are the days of wholesale outsourcing and then lamenting the decision. Happy times.


June 6, 2011  3:10 PM

Virtual security and hackers: A match made in heaven?



Posted by: Jbiscobi
CIO, mobile tools, Virtualization

While you were putting out fires in your computer room, we were scouring the Web looking for tasty bits for you to peruse. From ensuring virtual security to the workforce of tomorrow, check out these greatest hits from last week’s IT blogosphere:


June 3, 2011  2:46 PM

World IPv6 Day: The change is coming. Are you ready?



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
CIO, IPv4, IPv6

The Internet Society has promoted June 8 as World IPv6 Day, a day of a “global-scale test flight of IPv6,” promising that major Web companies will implement a day of free testing. Fellow blogger Melanie Yarbrough writes, “Major organizations such as Cisco, Bing, Rackspace, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Juniper Networks have signed on to participate in the worldwide test, offering their content over IPv6 for 24 hours.”

The telecom folks have been reminding us of the depleting space in IPv4 for years, but have we listened? Probably not enough, because at just 40 years old, IPv4 is about to max out the number of addresses it can track, and many companies are still working on the transition. Remind anyone of Y2K? It should, because it’s basically the same root cause: We built architecture around a certain format without thinking ahead. It’s a bit easier to understand that when they were experimenting with a 32-bit address back in the ‘70s, no one would ever imagine that the Internet would become what it is today.

Industry pundits are calculating that addresses will run out sometime in 2011. Major Web-based companies are committed to adopting IPv6, but without global adoption, we’re living on borrowed time.

According to Forrester senior analyst Andre Kindness, there are three technologies to enable IPv6 transition: Dual-stack, tunneling and translation. From my informal polling at last week’s Forrester IT Forum, it sounds like most CIOs are going with the dual-stack method — allowing IPv4 and IPv6 to coexist on the same devices and networks — as the path of least resistance. But everyone should have a plan at this point.

Consider World IPv6 Day as your call to action. Use this as an opportunity to test your systems on the new world order. You can go to Test-ipv6.com before June 8 and check out how well your systems will do in preparation to sample the IPv6 wares from corporate giants like Google, Cisco, Facebook, VeriSign and Akamai, among others.

Of course, the world’s population is approaching 7 billion people, and IPv4 had space for about 4 billion addresses. IPv6 has space for trillions of addresses. It should be a while before we run out of 128-bit addresses. Knock on wood.

What’s your game plan for World IPv6 Day? The comments are dying to discuss your strategy.


May 31, 2011  6:19 PM

A new home for Domino applications



Posted by: Scot Petersen
CIO, Domino applications

Apple recently announced that it has approved its 500,000th app for the iTunes App Store. IBM Lotus developers say, “Call us when you get to 10 million.”

That’s how many enterprise applications are residing on Domino and Notes servers and desktops around the world. The problem is, many of those Domino applications were written more than a dozen years ago and haven’t been updated since. Why? Well, they still work, for starters.

But IBM has — ignored may be too strong a word — overlooked the modern world creeping in on Domino applications for many years. And as the number of Domino applications mounted, customers put off the daunting task of moving them to new platforms. Now, IBM and users can no longer avoid the need to access those apps outside the Notes client, like the browser and mobile devices.

Enter IBM software developer partner GBS, which last week unveiled Transformer, a new framework for “transforming” Domino apps to new XPages-based applications, which can be run virtually anywhere.

What is encouraging for Domino and Notes users is the commitment behind the transformation effort. GBS Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Meade pointed this out at the launch event last week at the MIT Museum.

“IBM has been incredibly supportive of our activities,” she said. “We needed some stuff delivered from IBM in order to make this happen, and they made it happen tout de suite. They actually open-sourced some stuff so we didn’t have to wait for releases to come out. We open-sourced projects together.”

This isn’t just good news for Domino users, it’s great news. And about time.


May 30, 2011  7:40 PM

Around the blogs: Release date of Windows 8 and losing talent



Posted by: Wendy Schuchart
CIO, cloud security, cloud services, Windows 8

We’ve scoured the Web and compiled a crib sheet for the best and most interesting tidbits from around the IT blogosphere last week, including thoughts on the release date of Windows 8, the risks to info security when companies lost IT talent and how to make sure that you stay connected when the power goes out. Here’s what you might have missed:

 

  • A whopping 40% of IT security workers have admitted that they could hold their employers hostage even after they’d left for other employment, according to a recent survey conducted by Infosecurity Europe 2011.
  • Along with the release date of Windows 8, CIOs also need to consider virtualization licensing risks when thinking about cloud security, warns TotalCIO blogger Christina Torode.


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