What Should IT Managers Ask Santa For This Christmas?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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It’s the one time of the year when CIOs can ask Santa for a little bit of help. But what exactly should they be asking for? Here are a few suggestions

Angelo Di Ventura, director at Trustmarque

At the top of IT managers’ Christmas lists should be one thing – cloud visibility. Gone are the simple days of on-premise software, when keeping track of the applications being used and knowing who was using them was easy. As cloud and shadow IT are the shiniest baubles attracting attention on IT’s Christmas tree this year, having visibility into all the cloud applications being used by the business is much trickier. Many IT managers find themselves between a rock and hard place when it comes to managing cloud applications.

Employees are using apps such as Dropbox for business-critical functions, as they offer greater simplicity and an enjoyable user experience. Yet these apps are not enterprise-ready, making it an ongoing challenge to maintain an IT environment that supports employees’ changing working practices but at the same time, is highly secure. Through greater visibility into app usage, IT managers can start to consolidate and standardise applications across the business to improve security and consistency, and lower costs. This will empower IT managers to ensure information security, whilst at the same time giving employees the Christmas present of being able to use the apps they need to work productively.

Lisa Hammond, CEO, Centrix Software

Santa checking listDear Santa,

The desktop is dis-aggregating. Content and applications can be accessed through multiple devices and formats (installed, cloud, virtual). Users are asking for everything to be available, anywhere, on any device. Give me a solution to this conundrum!

How do I match every user to the devices and apps they have today, and to the devices and apps they really need? How do I decide which devices the company should provide and whether anyone is suitable for BYOD?

Everyone’s talking about moving to the cloud and our business users are subscribing to cloud-based apps all the time – but how do I keep track of all the cloud apps in use? How do I know who’s using what?

I want to be able to analyse everything that end-users do every day; so I can simplify by removing the apps no-one is using and segment to give users the devices and apps they really need. I want to make tactical and strategic decisions about the services I provide to users based on real usage facts and trends -rather than on estimates and assumptions.

What I really want for Xmas, Santa, is ‘Business Intelligence’ (analytics) for end-user devices and apps – please!

Thank you,

Lisa

Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E

The one thing that IT managers should ask Santa for this Christmas is a way to run IT for less.

Research from Vanson Bourne this year revealed the major challenges for IT managers in 2014 were: new technologies adding exponential demands to IT budgets and resources; pressure from the business to make cost savings; and an increase in end points that doesn’t correlate with an increase in budgets.

Making IT run more efficiently not only ensures (often decreasing) people resource and budgets are used to best effect, but it has the power to save IT departments (and their organisations) literally millions of pounds in 2015.

There are six reasons why IT managers should ask for more efficient IT systems in 2015:

1. Positive CSR. Power down PC policies can deliver significant energy and cost savings to facilitate a more environmentally-responsible approach to business.

2. Drive down software costs. Identify unused software and remove this across your IT estate reduces software sprawl and ensures you are only paying for what you need.

3. Improve security. The average Windows migration takes more than six months. Automation via zero-touch methods that minimise desk-side visits can help you migrate as many as 30,000 PCs in just 30 days.

4. Boost employee productivity. Automatic upgrades, patches and software updates remove the need for manual intervention on a user’s PC

5. Eliminate servers. Eliminate the need for 95% of servers from SCCM architectures by removing the need for site-specific distribution points

6. Improve the user experience Self-service enterprise apps stores can dramatically speed up the software request, approval and distribution process.

Kevin Burns, head of solution architecture at Vodat International

  • Strong retail sales, with as few IT related problems as possible
  • Some cool new tech to play with
  • A new Point of Sale hardware with Windows Embedded 8.1
  • More notice for store openings
  • Greater consultation on change initiatives
  • Realistic timelines for implementing changes
  • An extra pair of hands, or two, to help out
  • Suppliers to deliver what I’ve asked for, when they said they would
  • Better system integration (to help me look omni-channel)
  • Time to plan for what’s next (instead of reacting to the rest of the business)
  • A use case for (whatever I know I need to do but I’m struggling to get signed off, for example contactless, mobile, PCI compliance)
  • One less vanity project (wasting my team’s time in something that we know doesn’t work in our environment but marketing got the budget

John Davis, managing director at BCSG

From support ticket management to security to troubleshooting, IT managers are in charge of a range of tasks making their time high in demand but all too often short in supply. Anything that can help them win some time back, for example more investment in cloud apps should be top of their Christmas list this year.

There’s an app or three for almost everything nowadays – in fact, Getapp.com has almost 6,000 small business apps listed on their site – and it’s crucial that IT managers embrace this technology to help them streamline the company’s activities. Cloud apps will take away the initial heavy expenditure that IT managers invest in software, whilst providing them with the most up-to-date versions of the software without having to upgrade. All of these elements improve the flexibility of the staff, and answer many of the common queries that IT managers hear every day, leaving them with more time to focus on the more serious issues.

The New Year is a notoriously busy time for any business, so IT managers need to make their case now or face getting left behind in 2015.

Mike Hemes, VP of sales EMEA, Silver PEak

Top of the Christmas wishlist for IT managers will likely be dynamic path control. New Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions with dynamic path control makes dual internet connectivity simple to deploy and manage – something all IT managers want to do.

Second on the list should be 4G. Managing geographically dispersed offices can pose challenges, including latency, congestion and limited bandwidth. While 4G is slowly being rolled out, IT managers need a consistent connection that helps deliver the bandwidth needed for branch connectivity and be priced based on usage, making it ideal for fallback link technology.

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) will also be top of the Christmas wishlist. SD-WAN fabric unifies the enterprise network with the internet and public cloud, giving IT managers an ability they’ve never had; to monitor and control cloud connectivity while ensuring a consistent Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) performance.

The final item on the list should be cloud intelligence. As enterprises increasingly take advantage of the internet, there is a growing requirement to understand internet weather conditions. To avoid application failure, IT managers will want solutions that can utilise aggregated measurements across the company and provide superior intelligence when navigating the internet.

Orlando Scott-Cowley, cloud security specialist at Mimecast

IT managers should be asking Santa for an easier roadmap for their IT strategy. Many IT managers are at a crossroads with their infrastructure, deciding which technology will empower their business with the least amount of fuss, cost and ongoing support. Should they declare IT bankruptcy and move to the cloud, or should they sweat out their existing on premise assets for a little longer?

Should they allow a complete BYOD policy to enable their end users productivity or should they be tightening up on controls to protect data. The list of choices is significant, and has never been larger than it is today. Many IT managers suffer analysis paralysis as they try to work out which path is best. The honest answer is; there’s unlikely to be a right path, or one that fits with their strategy; but that it’s up to the IT team to test, deploy, iterate and repeat. So Santa could help by providing a guiding hand to help them on their way.

Patrick Bedwell, a VP at AlienVault

IT Managers can hope that their stockings will be filled with free security tools, like the Open Threat Exchange (OTX) for better threat intelligence, and heck- even if they haven’t been good boys and girls- it’s free!  For those who like all the bells and whistles, a SIEM that combines all the security functions an IT manager needs for complete security visibility right out of the ribbon adorned box (asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, threat detection, behavioural monitoring and security intelligence) will be at the top of the list to help manage those yuletide logs.

Annekathrin Hase, director of marketing and strategy, MindLink Software

Santa-shopping-onlineThe role of the IT manager is evolving faster than ever before as technology creeps into every aspect of modern business.

Those in managerial IT positions now have to provide the business with strategic advice and guidance, rather than just day-to-day support and system implementations. It is vital they have a clear and detailed understanding of the company’s long term goals, as well as the needs and pain points of business units so that they can provide council on how technology should be used to help achieve this.

Going forward, IT managers will be less technically inclined, in the traditional sense, and will possess greater business acumen. In terms of what they should be asking Santa for this Christmas; investment in Enterprise Group Chat apps, which allow employees to coordinate and exchange information in real-time across the whole business, should be high on every IT manager’s wish list.

Placing an emphasis on modern day communication platforms, which create greater collaboration between workers, is a prime example of where IT managers can introduce new technologies to create positive organisational change.

Daniel Foster, co-founder and technical director of 34SP.com

While everyone hopes Santa will go down their chimney bearing gifts this Christmas, absolutely nobody wants their website to go down over the festive period. Tucked in among the rest of their Christmas wish-list, IT managers should consider asking Santa to bring them the details of a reliable web hosting company. But of course, hosting is for life and not just for Christmas so choosing the right company now will ensure your site runs smoothly whatever the time of year and take the worry out of the web.

If you’ve been extra good, you could also think about asking for regular backups of your site, knowledgeable UK-based customer support and a money-back guarantee from your new web hosting company so you can try them out without any risk.

Eileen Rainsberry, EMEA marketing manager, Novell

1.) Bigger budgets (yeah, right…), but what about lower license costs?

If only Santa could bring IT managers the gift of bigger budgets…Ok, that’s probably not going to happen, but what if Santa could help you save money that could be used elsewhere? With the organisation constantly demanding new functionality and being asked to react to new trends, saving money is easier said than done. On top of that, up to 60 percent of your IT budget may appear fixed and outside of your control. But take a closer look, most of that amount is spent on software maintenance, and that’s a great place to look for savings. So if Santa can’t give you more money (money is a boring present after all), maybe he can audit your licences and applications and then cut those you’re not using to make those savings.

2.) IT departments should be asking Santa for more control over corporate data

It can be difficult to strike the correct balance between user mobility and IT security. Many IT functions have spent years building up scalable, reliable, secure infrastructure which protects business data. But wouldn’t it be great if with the evolving demands of mobility you could leverage this existing infrastructure and give users the mobile access they require without compromising on data security?

Paul Romer-Ormiston, Head of Product at Blackthorn Technologies

This Christmas, IT managers should be asking for automation strategies to make their daily checks for vulnerabilities and threats part of daily reporting so that they can see the wood for the trees.

Too many times there is a wealth of information from systems that have all the lights and settings on, but IT managers can then be overwhelmed by too much information to look at the raw logs.  The halfway house is to have a SIEM in the network. However, the trouble with this is the that logs are set to a level where it’s good when the SIEM experts are in, but over time the nature of the threats change so the threshold for alerting does need to vary a little. That’s at the sharp end, at the basic end, too many breaches are still happening with the SQL injection phenomenon and if the SQL weakness could go away in a nice puff of smoke, this would be awesome.

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