How to prepare IT for leaner times
Chairman Univention North America, making sure you stay in control of your data, your company and your future.
With the economy cooling, many companies have slowed or are slowing hiring reducing the number of their employees. Effective budget, resource and time management replaces dealing with growing pains in many IT departments. That’s the goal, but how can companies meet these challenges?
It turns out that the trifecta of open interfaces, integration, and open source software can help make your IT department a beacon of efficiency, almost like a beacon for leaner times. These three things enable companies to give IT the importance it deserves in the governance and management of a modern organization.
Take it with you: Why open data matters more than ever
In an era of economic growth and free flow of investment capital, cloud services offered excellent value for money. From startups to prominent players, providers offered a growing array of features at attractive prices, much of which was subsidized by venture capital war chests.
Times are changing. With slowing economic growth, higher credit costs and more limited access to finance, many companies have begun to focus on their core business model. While we see this shift most evident in the consumer world, for example, with “Money in Excel“No provider guarantees that their service will be available indefinitely. Please note that Google’s announcement that it will begin small business burden for its productivity suite, including email accounts, which has caused quite an outcry.
Therefore, portability matters. The ability to import and export your data from one system can give you the critical ability to move your data to a different provider. It allows your business to continue working, even if your previous service is raising prices, reducing its offering or ceasing to operate.
Plus, it lets you say where you want to spend your budget more efficiently and economically. If a provider’s policies and decisions don’t align with your employer’s governance, open interfaces can help you choose a new service and move your data elsewhere.
Escape From The Puzzle Palace: Open interfaces set you free
Whether choosing multi-cloud strategies to mitigate provider downtime or choosing a best-in-class offering over an all-in-one provider, today’s IT world has become large and complex to manage. As a result, IT departments often have little time to perform complex integration projects or connect pieces of software that are not designed to work together.
The inability of IT systems to easily access your company’s data is too often a hindrance interoperability, portability and accessibility. However, if your organization spends a significant portion of its budget generating data for production systems or customer contacts, why should someone else dictate how you can access that data?
Open interfaces to the rescue. They allow an organization to move its data into or out of a system and connect many pieces of the complex puzzle we call IT. Without it, moving between two cloud systems may require a company to copy data between the two manually. Doing so can have dire consequences, from increasing costs and decreasing employee satisfaction to potentially destroying immigrants in the first place.
Without such interfaces, it may not be possible to centralize key security functions such as user management, password monitoring, and log collection. After all, it’s not cost-effective for any organization to create interfaces for computers to interact with the glossy interfaces we humans prefer.
Use Fork: Open Source as an insurance policy
The best defense against a provider changing its offerings or going out of business is to have control over the source code of the software. MariaDB, LibreOffice, and Nextcloud are three examples where a project forked due to disagreement moving forward. In the case of MariaDB, for example, developers stepped in to preserve a widely used tool after a major provider like Oracle entered and acquired the popular MySQL database.
Open source provides a second tangible benefit beyond protection against unpleasant surprises. Often, internal staff or local service companies can develop extensions or non-recurring enhancements to the software. These changes help to better adapt the code to the current needs of the company. Sharing them will also boost name recognition and goodwill in a wider community. It’s a coding halo effect that’s useful during a talent squeeze. When hiring patterns fluctuate between hiring booms and freezes, this stock of accumulated goodwill can tip the scales and make a talented candidate decide to work for your IT department.
Beat the recession by keeping your options open
In an economic downturn, operating efficiently and focusing on future growth are often the two most important differentiators between organizations that thrive and those that barely make it. Opting for transparency and interoperability allows an IT department to build the best system for a given set of resources, reduce operational costs, and protect its assets from an ever-changing landscape.
So keeping your options open gives your team peace of mind as it allows everyone in the company to focus on development instead of dreading the moment it’s their turn to turn off the lights or take the servers offline.
A more fluid IT model that allows you to switch between offerings as needed and focus on allowing the rest of the team to keep working is especially critical when budgets are stretched thin. This is the moment of truth that everyone needs to be at their peak to get through a crisis. After all, don’t we all want to be the hero who saves the sinking ship, not the one arguing about whether we hit an iceberg?
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