IT Manager’s Dilemma – I Already Have a Team…  

December 29th, 2013
Randy

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Article by: Randy Peckham
Email: rpeckham@idssystems.com

In my job I get to speak to a lot of technology managers – Information Technology and Information Management directors, managers, and CIOs. There is often a common thread in those discussions, and I am going to lump many organizations and discussions into a fictitious manager in a fictitious organization that I will describe in the following text… take it with a grain of salt, because after all, this is a blog!

I am a manager – in fact, I am a pretty darn effective manager! I have been working with my organization for quite some time, so long in fact, that I know more about what it needs and how decisions are made than most of the staff. I have been empowered to deliver my group’s mandate in support of the organization’s goals. I have a budget, and I have hired a fairly competent team to execute a clearly defined plan. My team works hard at what they do and are proud of their accomplishments. If only I could have them accomplish ALL of the items in the plan that we need to accomplish… but there are only so many hours in a day!

You see, I am a manager, but I also have a dilemma. I know what the organization needs and I know what it wants (not always the same), but my resources are limited. I have a budget and a fixed number of resources working for me. But the organization changes the plan – priorities are changing all the time… new systems to deploy, old ones must be retained, changing requirements to take priority over old ones… but I am a manager, and I have a mandate to deliver! If only I had enough resources and the budget to continue with the plan while reacting to priority changes and operational crises!

I have built a team that can keep systems going… routine updates, the occasional system failure, servicing operations and customer requirements. I try to keep up to speed on what is happening in the industry, but it is tough to balance with my daily challenges. It seems that with the number of staff that I have, I need to plan for someone to almost always be off for a number of reasons… on vacation, sick, or has other personal obligations. And then – just when I think everything is going nicely, a key team member announces that they have found a new job… now I’m hiring again… I could, perhaps keep all of this in line… if only the executive management would allow me additional resources to focus strategically and not be required to react as abruptly to program changes. I am a manager, but I am mortal and so is my team. To do everything required of me, I would need to have Superman on my team.

Superman! Now there is a thought! How about if I could hire someone that I could call when needed, have them exercise super-human skills for the necessary task and then disappear until the next crisis or change in plans. Then, when they are needed again, they can swoop in, complete the mandate – even if it is totally different than before – and then zoom off when finished? A super hero… now, just where is Clark Kent when you need him?

Turns out, that he is just around almost any corner you look. You see, as a manager, I have found a Superman. In fact – I have found several. I’ve learned that I can engage nimble and experienced boutique consulting firms when needed. I’ve built their fees (reasonable ones) into my budget, and when I need something done that is not the main strength of my staff, I give them a call. I maintain a relationship with them, and ensure that they understand what their role is. In fact, they are part of my team, because they actually make my team stronger. My staff works closely with them and learns from them. And – because I work with them proactively – they know what I want and how I like things. We even have a budget set up for the work that they are going to complete over the course of the year. The neatest thing about it is that I can leverage specialized skills for tasks that I do not want my staff to waste a training budget on… allowing staff to focus on more pertinent training. I can have them do the on-call critical systems support that my small team is understaffed for, especially when required to perform their normal jobs the following day. Do I have a Superman on my team? I sure do – but sometimes I think it is more a SWAT team, or a precision marksman… whatever it is, I don’t think I could operate as effectively as I need to without their involvement.

Randy Peckham has been providing consulting services for IT operations for nearly two decades. As President and Chief Technology Architect for IDS Systems, his team has received numerous accolades for his “Superhero” team of resources that are frequently leveraged to augment smaller Information Technology and Information Management client groups. What is the role of consulting firms in your organization? Is there a plan? Contact IDS Systems (www.idssystems.com)

The BYOD Generation  

November 22nd, 2013
Randy

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Article by: Randy Peckham
Email: rpeckham@idssystems.com

“Hold on, Daddy – I want to take a video of that!” my daughter shrieks as she grabs my mobile phone… next thing I know, it’s uploaded to Facebook, my wife has been updated on her Twitter account, and my son has already texted a picture taken on his phone, complete with location details, all in a matter of seconds.  But wait… we don’t even have a “regular” camera with us while we are on our vacation!  That’s great – one less piece of gadgetry to carry.  Meanwhile, I steal a moment or two to return an important e-mail to my colleagues, accept a meeting for next week, make sure the client call-in queue is within acceptable levels, approve the payroll and confirm a new client contract… now back to the rides!

Technology has changed our world.  For as long as I can remember, employers have provided pagers, cell phones, PDAs – and in the last several years, smartphones – to their staff.  But, things have gotten so advanced, that everyone you see is carrying around their own device – is it a personal one, or a work-provided device?  It is so integrated into everything that we do, that most people just carry them in their hand and don’t even bother putting them away!  I’m not complaining – I’m one of them!

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Personal Clouds, Consumerization and the Post-PC era  

March 11th, 2013
Randy

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Article by: Randy Peckham
Email: rpeckham@idssystems.com

I have a cloud. It allows me to do amazing things: access my files anywhere, e-mail videos or other large attachments that used to choke most e-mail systems, find my lost phone and share information with my friends. I subscribe to all of the services; Dropbox, YouSendIt, Box.net, Skydrive, iCloud and Google Docs to name a few of the common ones.

This is my personal cloud, and it has replaced my laptop as the centre of my digital universe. The information that used to on my computer is now in my cloud, and I no longer have to worry about hard drive crashes, theft and backups. I am, of course, not unique in this regard; millions of people are adopting the personal cloud as their data-storage medium of choice.

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Five Rules of Automating a virtual data center.  

February 1st, 2013
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Article by: Mike Corry
Email: julie@owlydesign.ca

Matthew Dufresne
Sr. System Engineer, Embotics Corporation

So we’re all tired about talking about cloud. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where we’re tired about talking about how people are getting tired about talking about cloud! The reality is that for the most part, organizations have already passed the point of no return, and are now looking for real ways to realize the benefits that the virtualization paradigm delivers. As it turns out, some of the most immediate benefits in the virtual datacenter are achieved through automation.

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How Troubled are Your Projects?  

November 1st, 2012
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Article by: Mike Corry
Email: julie@owlydesign.ca

How do well do projects run in your organization?  Are they just trotting along happily or are there a number that are “troubled”? And, if they are indeed troubled, just how much are they actually costing your organization? There are many statistics available. PM Solutions Inc. conducted a survey in 2011, and in a list of projects valued at over $200 million, those claimed to be at risk of failing were valued at over $74 million.  Undisclosed were the projects that were in the process of being salvaged and those that were being pushed through, regardless of time and budget constraints.

Failed projects do greater damage than costing a lot of money without achieving the desired results – they leave a huge negative impact on the project team which, in turn, spills over into the customer environment and the internal organization.  Staff morale takes a hit and team performance suffers.  Troubled projects also have negative financial implications due to extended costs, overtime, stress leave, loss of good will and reputation and even employee turnover.  Often, these costs go unseen initially, and then erupt when not expected – weeks, months or years later.

So now what?  How do you deal with troubled projects? Continue reading »

Personal Clouds, Consumerization and the Post-PC era  

May 4th, 2012
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Article by: Mike Corry
Email: julie@owlydesign.ca

I have a cloud. It allows me to do amazing things: access my files anywhere, e-mail videos or other large attachments that used to choke most e-mail systems, find my lost phone and share information with my friends. I subscribe to all of the services; Dropbox, YouSendIt, Box.net, Skydrive, iCloud and Google Docs to name a few of the common ones.

This is my personal cloud, and it has replaced my laptop as the centre of my digital universe. The information that used to be on my computer is now in my cloud, and I no longer have to worry about hard drive crashes, theft and backups. I am, of course, not unique in this regard; millions of people are adopting the personal cloud as their data-storage medium of choice.
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IDS Comments on Microsoft Office 365  

March 13th, 2012
Randy

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Article by: Randy Peckham
Email: rpeckham@idssystems.com

(Reposted from IT in Canada, March 9, 2012)

Regional SMBs Still Asking Questions about Cloud Migration

Ottawa-based IDS Systems (IDS) has found some regional variation when it comes to migration to cloud. According to President and Chief Technology Architect of IT solutions provider, IDS Systems, small and medium sized businesses in major Canadian business hyper centers such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal are more open to adopting Office 365 than are those in smaller urban centres such as Ottawa, London or Victoria, who continue to have questions about implementing Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud services.

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Understanding Disaster Recovery Objectives  

February 21st, 2012
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Article by: Mike Corry
Email: julie@owlydesign.ca

The following is an article authored by Ivo Mokros, Senior Technology Architect and Director, Cloud Systems Integration for IDS Systems.  Ivo has spent many years running mission and life critical IT operations.  He has been exposed to numerous operational incidents that have put disaster recovery and business continuity plans to the test.  In his experience, there is one thing that matters more than anything else in a crisis – being prepared.  In this article, Ivo discusses the importance of unexpected outage planning and recovery expectations.  Regardless of the size of the organization, information integrity is crucial to the survivability of the organization and in many cases, its clients. Private and public sectors, knowledge of the impact of an outage and the tolerance that can be afforded is essential.  For more insight and an opportunity to discuss your organization’s preparedness, contact Ivo at imokros@idssystems.com.

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