Modern Network Architecture

Apr 3 2012   4:40PM GMT

Modern Network Architecture – well run IT

James Murray James Murray Profile: James Murray

I am not an IT support vendor.  Meaning that I don’t fix computers for a living anymore.  Yet I’m often called in when the network is failing.  So you might ask why I have been called in?  I had a client recently ask me this question?  It seemed like a good question, I thought I’d share the answer I gave her because modern network architecture is about more than just the individual system components.


Instead of thinking technology, Imagine the way an accounting department is organized.  Not everyone does everything. 


There are book keepers, CPA’s, Controllers and CFO’s.   It costs way too much money to hire the CFO or even the CPA to do the daily book keeping work.  So the book keeper enters the information into the records at a lower cost.  The CPA monitors the book keeper’s work and is responsible for creating the reports for management and for the IRS.  Just because the book keeper has seen the reports and knows how to run the reports, doesn’t mean that you want the book keeper to walk into the IRS audit.  You want the CPA there.  The controller reviews the overall processes to make sure they are following accounting best practices.  Finally the CFO sits with the owner and helps the owner strategize about the best direction for the company from a strategic level.  The CFO doesn’t do book keeping nor does he/she manage the systems… The value of the CFO is the high level instruction. 


The guy who supports your computers is a technician.  He’s like a book keeper.  The IT support company manages these technicians in the same way a book keeping company manages the book keepers. Most IT Support companies are managed by the best of the best book keepers.  What’s missing from most IT support vendors is the technical equivalent of a CPA and the controller.   You don’t want the book keepers running your network nor do you want your technicians running the overall network without a CPA or Systems administrator. 


As your business grows, the accounting systems become more and more complicated.  The business owner needs someone to fill in the gaps that the CPA, the controller and the CFO would fill.  You don’t need a full time person in these areas yet so I work at this level on a part time basis similar to the way your firm works for your clients.  I function as the gap filler… mostly as a controller and CFO equivalent on the IT side of the fence.  (by the way there are technicians (Book keepers), System Admins (CPA’s), Architect (Controller) and Chief Technology officer, CTO (CFO equivalent).  Eventually if you grow large enough you’ll need three full time people that do what I do.


So in other words, the day to day piece I can do, but it’s going to be way more expensive than bringing in a technician.  At the same time, I can work with your techs like a CPA and a controller to maintain the integrity of your network as your business grows.   I can also work with you to plan out the technical growth of your company in ways that match your business growth more effectively.  I’m usually a part time resource for most small businesses, but I’ll help you avoid technical pitfalls like the one we are in right now. 


Often we as technicians forget how little we actually know.  Our egos take over and we lose track of a big picture that quite frankly we were never trained to see.  Our job as technicians is to fix computers.  The Systems administrator may slow down or correct the technician for the benefit of the entire system.  The controller works to maintain the integrity of the network while at the same time implementing change into the system as the system grows.  The CTO’s job is to maintain the relationship between the technology vision and the business vision of the organization.  Very different jobs and often misunderstood by the technical staff.

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