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Martin Atherton

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DVD it in many colours

Bring your own PC

Workshop The rise of ‘consumer’ expectations in the workforce is driving some organisations to think up ways of giving their employees more choice when it comes to personal computers. ‘Bring your own computer’ (BYOC) has quickly become an umbrella term for employees, erm,.. bringing their own computer into the workplace. But just how …
Martin Atherton, 23 Jun 2010
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Making sense of the new business of IT

Lab You may be heartily sick of hearing that ‘change is the only constant’, ‘everything’s getting faster’ and ‘business is more competitive than ever’. However, a direct consequence of what’s happening today is that the expectations placed on IT to help the business thrive in the midst of all this ‘change’ has never been greater. We …
Martin Atherton, 21 Jun 2010
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Holistic, end-to-end, consolidated service management-itis

Lab Many IT professionals see ‘service management’ (or ‘managing services’ if you prefer) as a simple phrase which describes what they do. Some see it as ‘doing the job properly’. Others do not like the term because it overstates what they do, or they do not consider IT to be a custodian of ‘services’. However, most IT professionals …
Martin Atherton, 10 Jun 2010
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Delivering on data governance

Lab Data governance can be dismissed as ‘applied common sense’, or balked at as an impossible endeavour which once embarked upon, will never end. The fact that one end of the data governance spectrum can seem a bit frightening means many organisations tend towards the other, and wind up doing the absolute minimum in order to get by …
Martin Atherton, 04 Jun 2010
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Information versus the silos

Lab The idea that ‘information is important and we want to do more useful things with it’ transcends technology by virtue of it having been true long before IT vendors wanted to talk about it. However, technology does have a key role to play in helping us exploit the information in our businesses, not least because of its ability …
Martin Atherton, 27 May 2010
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Service management best practice

Whenever IT best practice for service management gets a mention, we tend to think of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). A much longer list of them exists, however. Here’s one I found earlier: ITIL, Application Service Library (ASL), Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), CoBIT, ISO/IEC 20000, Agile, SSADM, RAD …
Martin Atherton, 14 May 2010
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IT governance: Making the case without cutting your throat

Lab ‘IT governance’ sounds like a grandiose idea, but what is it? In simplest terms, it’s a subset of the (even more grandiose sounding) discipline of corporate governance, focused, unsurprisingly on IT. The idea is to reduce the ‘black box-ness’ of IT by guiding the way it is approached through taking the requirements of …
Martin Atherton, 06 May 2010
Broken CD with wrench

The desktop provisioning palaver

Workshop Setting and maintaining desktop policy and provisioning equipment and software sounds like something that should be done once and then left to gather dust while people just get on with things in the knowledge that it’s all been agreed. Perhaps this would be practical if such interesting developments weren’t afoot in consumer …
Martin Atherton, 04 May 2010
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The IT management dashboard

Lab Our research in the IT management domain has helped us establish a few basic truths. Most IT professionals agree that IT does an adequate job of supporting the business across a range of areas, but also that it could do a better job if was managed more effectively. ‘Historical’ shortcomings, such as the heavy focus on …
Martin Atherton, 27 Apr 2010
Cat 5 cable

Server patching principles

Workshop In the imperfect world we live in, patching stuff, be it desktops, software or servers is a fact of life. We do it or we risk being exposed to the latest security threat, missing out on new functionality or suffering performance degradation. We discussed desktop client patching over in the desktop management workshop. In this …
Martin Atherton, 23 Apr 2010
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The user view of IT delivery

Lab It would be odd to hear from an IT pro who didn’t have ‘demanding users’, regardless of which decade of business computing we care to examine. However, the nature of the demands and the expectations of today’s users are changing. We could cite popular culture, consumer behaviour, freely available services and the ‘disposable’ …
Martin Atherton, 22 Apr 2010
Broken CD with wrench

Supporting the teleworkers: Redux

Workshop The issue of providing IT support to home-based users always attracts a lot of responses from the IT pro readership on El Reg, as illustrated by Jon Collins’ recent article. The bottom line is that most of you who expressed an opinion think that supporting teleworkers is not actually that big of a deal, as long as some sensible …
Martin Atherton, 21 Apr 2010
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Exploiting the new dynamism

Lab A combination of today’s fast moving, interconnected trading environments and economic uncertainty drives the need for robust yet flexible business support from IT. Yet many IT departments are constrained in their ability to respond to changing business requirements because of the relatively static way in which IT has …
Martin Atherton, 20 Apr 2010

Change management in x86 server estates

Workshop Changes to the IT environment are the source of some of the biggest headaches for the IT pro. They probably always will be, for the obvious reason that accidents aside, the most straightforward way of destabilising an IT system is to change it. However, change is inevitable: by and large, dealing with such changes, and …
Martin Atherton, 16 Apr 2010

Consumerisation and client computing

Workshop The Apple Mac is an appropriate candidate for the ‘I want one of those because he’s got one’ poster child. However, the creep of consumerism and its impact on the range of computing devices which find themselves inside organisations goes beyond mere executive envy. The consumerisation phenomenon is a little tricky to pin down, …
Martin Atherton, 14 Apr 2010
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Is IT service delivery really changing?

Lab The new world we’ve been hearing about for years is slowly drifting into focus. Globally distributed businesses demand round the clock access to services, and new technologies (or updates of old ones) provide an expanding number of choices for building and consuming them. Consolidation, convergence and virtualisation - there’s …
Martin Atherton, 12 Apr 2010
server room

Patch Management: Should it even exist?

Workshop From the outside in, it’s easy to question the need for software patching. “Surely,” some might ask, “If software was written properly we wouldn’t need the IT department to spend time patching it?” The even more cynical might suggest that the whole thing is a money-making ruse – without the need for patching, we wouldn't have …
Martin Atherton, 30 Mar 2010
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Choosing an ERP implementation partner

Workshop Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has been around for a long time, yet there is no de facto guide to making it work or any guarantee that you'll get what you want if you invest in it. Yet many thousands of instances of ERP from a range of software vendors are in play today. Despite the uncertainties, businesses make it work. So …
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Dealing with the virtual hype

Lab There are few if any technologies that have garnered as much industry coverage as virtualisation has enjoyed over the last few years. Okay, maybe ‘Cloud Computing’ has too, but that’s more vendor talk than action right now. As far as real-world activity goes, virtualisation is a hotbed of activity and a magnet for vendors to …
Martin Atherton, 18 Mar 2010

Desktop refresh cycles: How long is yours?

Workshop Depending on the organisation you work in, the notion of ‘desktop refresh’ will have taken one of several forms. At one end of the spectrum, major ‘one-off’ upgrades can be the norm. The other end may involve nothing formal in the way of a modernisation program, relying more on individual employees making the case for a new …
Martin Atherton, 17 Mar 2010
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Virtualisation and vendor support

Lab You may be playing around with virtualisation on the edges of your IT environment or be well down the road to making it part of the furniture. But what happens when something goes wrong and it’s not immediately obvious what the problem is? If the issue looks as though it is related to a software application provided by a third …
Martin Atherton, 12 Mar 2010
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Getting there – the road to virtualisation

Lab Despite the annual technology prediction-fest that pollutes the airways each year, it’s fair to say that nobody really knows ‘where it’s all going’. And that’s good, because the world would be a bit boring otherwise. What we do have is a reasonable understanding of the direction in which things are going in general in IT. Plenty …
Martin Atherton, 02 Mar 2010
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Virtualisation and management frameworks

Lab Our research in the field of operational IT management has yielded much in the way of rich, down to earth insights into day to day realities, thanks to the readers of El Reg. As part of this ongoing exploration, we’ve had the opportunity to dig around a bit on the topic of best practice frameworks. What we found would not …
Martin Atherton, 01 Mar 2010
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How do you manage your virtual environment...

Lab A study (pdf) we undertook in 2008 with the help of the Register readership acknowledged what you all knew to be true: contrary to the hype, IT wasn’t in fact broken/on-fire/rubbish, it was actually doing OK. However, those working in the field happily acknowledged that things could be better. The burden that IT works under …
Martin Atherton, 19 Jan 2010
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How do you manage service levels in a virtualised environment?

Lab In previous research projects we’ve examined the impact of service level monitoring and management, and found positive benefits in having a range of associated SLAs in place. No surprises there of course. However, the main finding was that beyond a certain number, it didn’t matter how much ‘extra agreement’ you have: there was …
Martin Atherton, 07 Jan 2010