Practical Analysis: Time For Some IT Self-Improvement - InformationWeek

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1/29/2009
12:45 PM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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Practical Analysis: Time For Some IT Self-Improvement

It's time to hone best practices and position your organization for better days.

There are very few silver linings to be found in the cloud that is the worldwide recession. One small glint for IT pros is that while most sectors of the economy have never had to work through anything like this before, we have. The Internet bubble was a blip compared with today's economic mess, but it was our blip, and in virtually every organization, the reputation and overall value of IT was rethought. It's the sort of experience you wouldn't wish on anyone, but it didn't kill us, so it must have made us stronger. And in fact, we have data to prove it.

In the reader poll for our Jan. 19 magazine cover story, for example, 44% of you said that demands on IT are rising, while only 16% said that fewer projects are being requested and approved. That stands in stark contrast to 2003, when the prevailing attitude toward IT and the tech sector was to throw us bums out and live with as little technology as possible.

Our study also found that spending will hold steady in most areas; the one growth spot was in customer-facing projects, such as portals and sales self-service systems. In terms of improving our own efficiency, most IT organizations say they'll continue or increase their efforts around server virtualization and collaboration technologies such as telepresence and videoconferencing. All of these initiatives put IT in good stead with top management because they improve either the company's overall competitiveness or its efficiency.

This is a good time for business technology organizations to get their own houses in order, too. In particular, I'm thinking of two areas: That disaster recovery/business continuity plan likely could use some updating; and the lull in activity is good opportunity to look at staffing and training. The trend we're seeing, both in our research and anecdotally, is that the crisis of confidence in IT caused by the tech bubble has dissipated. Done right, technology is once again seen as a competitive advantage, and that means smart IT shops are taking steps to make sure things stay that way--even in the face of a disaster.

Informationweek Analytics
If you haven't re-evaluated your disaster recovery strategy in the last 18 months, it's time. For most organizations, the growing use of virtualization and the trend toward data center consolidation mean that disaster recovery plans that might have worked two years ago probably won't work now. While it's a good time to think about your disaster recovery plan, the main barrier to getting it updated, cited by 89% of business technology pros, is paying for it. While there's still no free lunch, the good news is that new technologies, including virtualization, data deduplication, and disk-to-disk-to-tape, can reduce the cost of disaster recovery.

Of course, technology is just one piece of that puzzle. If there ever was a people, process, and technology problem, disaster recovery planning is it. For our take on each of these areas, visit data-protection.informationweek.com.

Art Wittmann is director of InformationWeek Analytics, a portfolio of decision-support tools and analyst reports. You can write to him at [email protected].

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