Network Configuration Comparison
|Traditionally Configured||IS IT Configured|
|Backups - data is backed up, from the server, daily. Standard rotation schemes require fast, high capacity storage systems for backups.||Complete Disaster Recovery - Using a self-designed distributed backup system, The Network Operating System, Networked Applications, and User Data are backed up separately. Minimal data is actually transferred, great for slower, low capacity devices. Data can be recovered for any number of months (depending on preference). Worst case scenario: your building burns down with everything in it, you lose only one day's worth of data! (How much data would you lose if that were to happen today?) Complete preparedness and recovery includes also means recovering from a virus infection, a lost file, a hack. Procedures on recovery, and storage rotation, ensure you can recover. Statistics show that many businesses that experience a significant data loss, are out of business within six months.|
|Knowledge belongs to the individual - I.T. staff who were involved with particular issues remember them. Rarely does the knowledge expand beyond their own minds.||A technical knowledge base on your network. Documents: network architecture (so it can be understood by others - important because staff will not work in one place forever or live forever), a history of technical issues (nobody holds this information solely in their heads - technical solutions depend on having small pieces of detailed information available. Providing a formal means for documenting the technical history of a network can allow your administrator, or consultant, to be free to concentrate on other issues). Knowledge belongs to the institution. Your organization can learn from past problems/mistakes. Technical resources also on the network - installs, patches, etc... - available only to technical staff.|
|Management by individual preferences - each administrator has a way of doing things. This is not written, and not transferred. New Administrators spend lots of time coming up to speed, or changing things to their way.|
A complete management system. In order to manage any resource, you have to know what you have on hand and how it can be used. Technology choices can be made for maximum compatibility, and interchangeability. A management system defines how a resource is to be managed. Systems transcend individuals, last longer, and can be transferred to new staff readily. Hardware and software inventory systems will let you track your technology resources, and keep you compliant with software licensing laws.
|Highly trained technical staff perform mundane duties - technical staff trained in design and forced to do maintenance bore easily with repetitive tasks. Creative individuals will not tolerate a stifling environment.||Routine procedures performed by non-technical staff. Highly trained technical staff are most effective when using their knowledge for what it was acquired - planning and implementation of Information Technology, or solutions development. Using a highly trained professional (staff or consultant) to perform daily operations tasks associated with your network is not only a waste of money, but also talent. With development of instructions, or recipes, in-house staff can perform the day to day operations that are needed to manage a network, leaving requirements for technical staff to only when a problem need be resolved. This process also provides a means for staff in non-technical positions to obtain some technical exposure - perhaps providing a path for them to enter the Information Technology arena.|
|Haphazard File Systems - at best a file system is seen as a "user" task. Since no central planning takes place, the organization's knowledge contained in those files is not accessible. The "Information System" is not providing an organized System of Information.|
An understandable file system. Like any paper-based filing system, an electronic file system should be orderly and readable - that is a person should be able to learn it by reading their way through it. Filing electronically is not that different from filing in cabinets, establishing this as your business model can make your operation run more smoothly. With current technologies, file systems are searchable and properly planned can become the beginning of a knowledge management system for the organization. Filing systems consist of business (departmental), and personal (private) information.
|Paper Archives - documents are printed and stored in boxes for previous years. Someone goes to a dusty closet to dig out archived documents for information.||Online archival of electronic documents. Electronic documents can be archived electronically. With increasingly lower storage costs, keeping archived documents on line is cost effective. An online archival system provides you with a database of information that is searchable with today's technologies. You now have a wealth of business knowledge on which to base decisions that was previously unavailable only because it was inconvenient to access.|
|The default experience - whatever programs are installed on a PC, are what appears on desktop. Or the Programs Menu. No customization, or optimization according to user needs.||Simplify the computing experience. Customize groups of "most recently used" icons for users. Customize online help, screencam files for getting new users started, reminding staff of infrequently used processes. "An Introduction To Computing At ________" document gets the user started without any intervention. Name things (server shares, icons) so they make sense to the user, not because they are the defaults.|
|User accessible information all available on a single server volume - easiest for administrators to setup. Vulnerable to accidents by users, corruption by applications.|
Separation of data from programs. Data may change at any time, therefore needs to be backed up each day. Programs change less often, and in fact should be protected against inadvertent change, so they need to be backed up less often. Separating data from programs provides the framework to distribute backups through a system of planned redundancy - the essence of a good disaster recovery system. Separation of user data, from databases, and applications also provides ease of implementing a truly secure management system that protects all components from mishaps.
|Workstations highly variable - a traveling user gets easily confused. No standard program group to operate out of, no standard folders to use for temporary storage. Each user becomes a novice, very inefficient.||Standard workstation look and feel. If your staff moves about the office to various computers, looking around to find the applications they need can be a time consumer. Providing a standard interface where things are easy to find quickly can add greatly to productivity. Protecting against losses from downed workstations should also be part of your disaster recovery and preparedness program - if software installations are standardized, routines to gather user preferences, etc...can be executed on all workstations thus providing true recovery to previous state on workstations.|
|Default security settings, management by individual - security is normally something overlooked until it is a problem. Then it is a huge probem.||Complete Security System - Securing access to various parts of the system is only common sense. Not only does it protect against malicious or accidental changes, but is also provides ease of managing network users. Security implemented by groups is very efficient in terms of managing a system, and very quick to make alterations to for user accounts. Managing in groups eliminates exceptions, standardizes management, and allows the network to be understood without remembering a lot of specific details about each user.|
Inadvertent changes to network system files can bring your network down. Developing a network security system is usually a matter of re-configuring the features that already exist on your server, and should be tightly integrated with a group level user management system. Protecting your network from outside influences can be a matter of just educating people on effective password choices. Simple measures can go a long way in protecting your network
Are you getting what you should from your Information Technology systems?
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