IT's worst addictions (and how to cure them)

Jargon, data, power -- the first step to IT recovery is recognizing the monkey on your back

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"You want to keep improper access to data from happening, but once it does happen, you need to trace it back to its source," he says. "You want to be able to find the employee who broke company policies or the ISP that hosted the outside person coming in. And you want to advertise your traceability efforts so that people who try to break in know they're not going to get away with it. Technologists are constantly coming up with better ways to protect our data. Along with their advancements, rigorous traceability measures can be a powerful deterrent and smart investment."

IT addiction no. 7: Delusions of grandeur

Call it the myth of omnipotence. Technology has progressed at such an astounding rate that many become addicted to the notion that anything is possible -- no trade-offs or sacrifices required.

Some IT people still believe any problem can be solved if you just throw enough resources against it, says Michael McKiernan, VP of business technology at Citrix. If they could just collect enough data and dump it into a massive business intelligence system, they'd emerge with a single source of truth for making decisions. If they were only freed from the arbitrary constraints imposed by management, they could have systems that are affordable and always available, massively scalable, instantly flexible, and aesthetically delightful.

They can't.

"If you build something on Amazon Web Services that can do a million transactions in an hour, do you really think you'll also be able to do a hot fail-over disaster recovery site?" he says. "If you've created something that can process really large transaction volumes, do you really think you'll be able to change it every week? If you want it to be massively scalable, you may have to give up having it be highly available."

The cure: Get real. Develop an IT portfolio that balances risk and reward, and hedge your big bets. Don't swing for the fences every time unless you enjoy striking out. It's better to hit for singles and doubles to boost your enterprise batting average instead of going for personal glory.

"People need to realize they can't get there simply by being smarter or working harder," he says. "You can't have it all. You can have anything you want, you just can't have everything you want. The antidote is knowing what the trade-offs are, then trying to get as close to the edge as you can."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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