CIO Symmetry

August 27, 2009  8:31 PM

Are SaaS and server virtualization helping you turn the budget corner?

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

I’ve been asking IT execs what’s on their agenda for next year and the good news is that it’s not all about further delaying projects. Rather, budgets are opening up a bit, due, in part, to ROI realized from investments in a SaaS platform and server virtualization.

One midmarket financial services firm has been focused on staying afloat and only making must-have IT investments such as a new CRM system. Critical projects — such as an application development initiative to build new tools for its financial advisors — were put on hold. Continued »

August 21, 2009  3:24 PM

Beware of rising server room temperatures

Karen Guglielmo Karen Guglielmo Profile: Karen Guglielmo

When you’re cranking the A/C during these final hot days of summer, don’t forget about data center cooling as well. The consequences for not monitoring server room temperatures could burn you well beyond the summer months.

Experts suggest the optimal server room temperature should not go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 82 degrees. But in general, it’s best to keep your servers in a room with temperatures between 68-71 degrees. Continued »

August 14, 2009  3:25 PM

Employee retention troubles? Try IT e-learning courses

Karen Guglielmo Karen Guglielmo Profile: Karen Guglielmo

Signs are that the economic recession is receding and the recovery is slowly beginning. Great news, right? But with recovery comes new job opportunities, and potential attrition on your staff. Particularly if IT at your company has been hard-hit and travel and training budgets cut, people could be waiting for their first chance to jump ship. That means now is the time to invest in your people — and even if you don’t have the budget you once did, you can probably afford some IT e-learning courses.

E-learning courses are available for training in many areas including networking, project management, security, ITIL and application development. They also offer certification for Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA and others. Some of the major providers for e-learning training include New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, ITCareerPro, Pultorak & Associates, SkillSoft and Costs of e-learning courses range from $50 to $275 per user for a three- to six-month usage.

For people whose learning style really requires an instructor, there are e-learning classes that include virtual trainers. This allows the students to ask questions and get the answers they need in real-time. Continued »

August 6, 2009  1:50 PM

Sought-after IT jobs — lawsuit-filing not among them

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

IT jobs are down this year. Mix that lack of employment opportunity with an exceptionally tough job market (the average national unemployment rate is up to 9.4% as of July 2009), and you get some pretty frustrated individuals. One such individual is taking her frustrations to the next level and suing her alma mater.

Trina Thompson graduated from New York’s Monroe College in April with a bachelor’s degree of business administration in information technology. As of July 24, the still-unemployed Thompson filed a lawsuit against the office of career advancement for not helping her find a job.

On top of full tuition reimbursement, Thompson is also suing for an additional $2,000, “for the stress I have been going through looking for a full-time job on my own,” she wrote in her lawsuit.

There are a lot of well-qualified professionals struggling to find a job, and if the IT business admin IT positions are few and far between (as in Thompson’s case) what are the positions IT managers are looking to fill? Continued »

July 31, 2009  2:44 PM

IT project failures not the only reason CIOs get fired

EditorAnne Anne McCrory Profile: EditorAnne

What’s going to get you fired from your CIO job? I was reminded this week of all the ways CIOs risk termination, from failed IT projects to jobs that outgrow them, during a “town meeting” (aka moderated conference call) on IT project failures. Featured speaker Chris Curran, a consultant and chief technology officer at DiamondConsultants, told the story of one CIO who was fired because he couldn’t get his arms around the Web 2.0 technologies and vendors that represented the organization’s next big technology initiative. “It doesn’t mean that CIO isn’t a good CIO,” Curran explained. “It just means they weren’t a good CIO in that situation.” Continued »

July 24, 2009  3:30 PM

Microsoft releases code to the Linux community — and?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

When Microsoft (historically not a fan of the GPL) announced this week that it would release 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community (meant to enhance the performance of Linux when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V), there were some raised eyebrows.

The code donation was certainly “a break from the ordinary,” according to the official Microsoft press release, in which a Microsoft official said the move was due in part to the current economic climate, to help companies consolidate their hardware and software. Continued »

July 17, 2009  2:48 PM

With PPM software, don’t always throw in the kitchen sink

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Project and portfolio management (PPM) software is definitely not overlooked in the midmarket. According to a recent survey, 17% use some form of PPM software. But how many of those organizations are actually using all of what they paid for?

Time and time again, I hear the stories of the initial implementation process: Company purchases software, company implements relevant parts of the software in stages, company stops the process once it has implemented what it needs.

I once bought a 160-piece kitchen set. Out of the 160 “useful” kitchen tools, I use about 10 of them — the rest sit in my cabinets, waiting for the day I decide to make eight individual servings of crème brûlée or require a tool for removing my strawberry stem. At the time, I had big plans for my cooking skills and thought the new tools would inspire me to learn a bit more in the kitchen — maybe I really will try my hand at beef Wellington, I thought.

Continued »

July 9, 2009  2:58 PM

Project prioritization quandary: Will index cards do the job?

Karen Guglielmo Karen Guglielmo Profile: Karen Guglielmo

Whether they’re using formal project scheduling systems or informal index cards pinned to the wall, midmarket companies are taking steps to standardize project prioritization. But are these efforts enough to address the endless list of projects in their queues?

Seventy-five percent of the 236 respondents to a recent survey said they have project queues with three to 12 months’ worth of work in them. And most (71%) are maintaining only one type of project queue for all types of projects.

So if you’re a midmarket company facing a high demand for projects with limited resources, how can you effectively streamline the project prioritization process?

Some companies that still have money to spend are investing in project portfolio management (PPM) software to address the project prioritization issue. But not every one has the budget to purchase costly PPM software. Continued »

June 26, 2009  1:40 PM

Business knowledge management helps boost offshore strategy

Karen Guglielmo Karen Guglielmo Profile: Karen Guglielmo

How important is business knowledge management to the success of your offshore strategy? Pretty important, one CIO who offshores to India told me recently.

Offshore workers are often at a disadvantage when providing services for U.S.-based companies. Sure – you can find a tech person in India who can code java without any detailed knowledge of your business. However, for other outsourced services, such as customer support or software development, the more knowledge your offshore workers have about your business, the better service they can deliver and the more productive they can be.

“How can they participate and anticipate, if they don’t know about our business?” said Cornelia Pool, CIO of San Jose, Calif.-based Covad Communications, a national provider of national provider of integrated voice and data communications. Pool, who outsources the company’s software development efforts to India, makes extra efforts to ensure her offshore workers are treated like company employees.

At the beginning of the outsourcing relationship, she involves team members from both the offshore group and U.S.-based team to review the project goals and determine the best ways to communicate on a regular basis – ways that are convenient for both groups. Regular communication regarding not only project deliverables, but also the company’s message and goals, are key to the success of working together. Continued »

June 19, 2009  3:37 PM

Using PPM software to bring financial accountability into IT

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

The CIO, as the liaison between business and IT, needs to know exactly what’s going on in IT and then translate it into something the business side understands: dollars and cents. To do that, the project and portfolio management (PPM) discipline — and software — is becoming increasingly important, midmarket included.

At the 2009 HP Software Universe conference this week, I came across an attendee who stressed just that. Introducing himself as a “turnaround CIO” (who turns around failing businesses), this particular gentleman had a lot to say about the IT culture.

“It can be really difficult to get a data center manager, for example, to tell you exactly what he’s doing and when he’s doing it,” he said. “They turn to you like you have three heads — ‘I’m doing my job, what else would I be doing?’” Continued »

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