Lose your IT religion


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It's all too common to see brand loyalty, cultlike groupthink, and pure emotion drive critical IT decisions

You don't have to be in IT all that long before you end up in the middle of a heated religious debate. Whether it's the Church of Microsoft, the Holy Jobsian Order of Apple, or a Linux distribution cult, tech allegiances run deep.

People like what they like and proselytizing is just part of human nature. But religious beliefs sometimes exert an unholy influence on strategic IT decisions.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Read Dan Tynan's article on the biggest tech cults in IT. | Seeking a higher plane of reliability? Then check out Matt Prigge's High-Availability Virtualization Deep Dive Report. ]

I've fallen prey to such prejudices myself. Recently, I was discussing overall IT infrastructure strategy with the CIO and COO of a new client. At one point, we touched on the client's use of a layered combination of hardware and software firewalls in the company's Internet border network. I offhandedly remarked that I thought that was a great architecture: a purpose-specific hardware firewall at the border with a feature-rich, general-purpose software firewall safely tucked behind it. The CIO mentioned that this architecture wasn't completely intentional and he wanted to remove the hardware firewall in the near future.

Without putting a great deal of thought into it, I cautioned him against doing that. I've never felt that having a full-featured, general-purpose operating system -- however much it has been hardened -- attached directly to the Internet is a fantastic idea. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that I had unwittingly veered into the realm of religious debate and spent the next five minutes paying for it. Could I prove that this configuration would directly put the company at risk? No, I really couldn't. I had to admit that my recommendation came from a personal prejudice rather than direct experience.

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