CTOs and CIOs like to talk about the strategic application of technology, but ignoring basic tactical issues can lead to simple but extremely costly mistakes. Missing a $30 domain name registration payment can be enough to grind your business to a halt. In one notorious example, last February a missed payment by The Washington Post knocked out employee e-mail for hours until the renewal was paid.
As datacenter environments become denser, even low-level facilities issues may demand scrutiny. On his Weblog, Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz quoted a CIO who responded to a “what keeps you up at night” question with, “I can no longer supply enough power to, or exhaust heat from [our datacenter]. I feel like I’m running hot plates, not computers.” A CIO who overlooks burning -- but not necessarily obvious -- issues such as these may soon be in search of another job.
16. Clinging to prior solutions
A common mistake for IT managers moving into a new position at a new company is to try to force solutions and approaches that worked at a prior job into a new environment with different business and technology considerations.
One current vice president of operations describes a new, low-cost open source environment he had to manage after working in a more traditional shop that relied on high-end Sun hardware and Oracle and Veritas software. The new startup company couldn’t afford the up-front cash required to set up a rock-solid environment based on commercial software, so they ran a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) architecture with an especially aggressive Linux implementation on 64-bit AMD Opteron machines. Gradually, the vice president realized that his old solutions wouldn’t work in the new environment from a technology or cost angle, so he changed his approach to fit the new reality, using none of the technologies from his prior job.
17. Falling behind on emerging technologies
Staying current can prevent a disaster. For instance, the emergence of inexpensive consumer wireless access points during the past few years has meant that anyone can create a wireless network -- a real problem for any reasonably structured corporate IT environment. A Network Instruments retail client, for example, was installing a WLAN to serve the needs of employees who measured warehouse inventory levels. Soon enough, management wanted access to the WLAN, and without asking for approval, some employees installed wireless access points at their desks.
Fortunately, the IT staff had implemented ways to check for rogue access points, and a WLAN channel scan with a network analyzer quickly showed there were more access points on the network than the administrator knew had been deployed. In this case, the IT staff recognized an emerging technology that might be stealthily introduced by employees and developed procedures to inventory the threat, thereby controlling it.
18. Underestimating PHP
IT managers who look only as far as J2EE and .Net when developing scalable Web apps are making a mistake by not taking a second look at scripting languages -- particularly PHP. This scripting language has been around for a decade now, and millions of Yahoo pages are served by PHP each day.