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Jon Collins

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Everything you ever wanted to know about private cloud

The idea of cloud computing usually suggests vast server and storage resources delivered by external providers. The benefits, we are told, are legion: you pay only for what you use, you scale up to what you need, procurement costs are minimal, operational overhead reduced, and so on. But many organisations remain concerned about …
Jon Collins, 08 Mar 2012

Seven lessons from the HP Touchpad fire sale

The unfolding saga surrounding the HP Touchpad contains a goldmine of salutary tales. So, just what can we learn from the last few days? Anyone who says they expected the fire sale of HP touchpads to turn into a global gadget grab is a liar. Fortunately nobody has yet, not publicly anyway – indeed, apart from a few bits of …
Jon Collins, 29 Aug 2011
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Pushing service delivery beyond the enterprise boundary

Workshop So far in this series we’ve been considering all things service delivery, with an emphasis on how the various elements of IT infrastructure can be managed as a single whole. IT infrastructure isn’t what it once was however, as demonstrated by the increasing range of ‘cloud-based’ options available from third parties. The word ‘ …
Jon Collins, 26 Nov 2010
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My lost Cobol years: Integrating legacy management

Workshop Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I went for a job interview with ICL. “What do you think of COBOL?” they asked. “It’s a dinosaur, won’t last, should be put out of its misery,” I remember saying. The two grey suits looked at each other and turned back to me. “We’re a COBOL shop,” said one, before the interview very swiftly …
Jon Collins, 24 Nov 2010
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Tools and technologies for service delivery

Workshop Certain things in life are true, such as exercise is good for you, common sense is not so common, and budget for IT management and operations tools is hard to come by. Browse around the websites of any number of software companies and you will find technologies to make IT operations more productive, reduce costs and risks, and …
Jon Collins, 23 Nov 2010
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Life beyond server consolidation

Workshop Virtualisation software vendors have in their marketing kit bags a very simple chart, which comprises three circles. The first, on the bottom left shows ‘simple’ server virtualisation, that is, use of virtual machines to consolidate multiple workloads onto a smaller set of servers. In the centre is ‘managed’ virtualisation, in …
Jon Collins, 22 Nov 2010

How von Neumann still controls the desktop

Workshop When John Von Neumann first wrote up his notes about the logical design of the EDVAC computer on a train journey to Los Alamos in 1946, it is unlikely that he fully appreciated the impact they would have. For all their complexity, cores and threads, their caches and bus architectures, modern computers still follow which is …
Jon Collins, 17 Nov 2010
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Squaring the service delivery circle

Workshop In the last article, we considered a number of perspectives on service delivery, top to bottom, left to right. In operational terms however, the relationship that matters the most is the one agreed between coal-face IT staff and the users they support. What’s at the heart of making this work? Things were simpler in the old days …
Jon Collins, 17 Nov 2010
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Making practice perfect in IT service delivery

Workshop The adage “Do as I say, not as I do” is nowhere more true than in delivering effective IT services. Bookshelves are full of guidance, and indeed, frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) go into considerable depth to explain the whys and wherefores of service delivery best practice. If it’s all so hard to do …
Jon Collins, 15 Nov 2010
server room

Interoperability: standards or proprietary?

Workshop ‘Choice’ is one of those words that gets bandied around in all kinds of ways, without anyone really thinking about if it is appropriate. We all want choice, so we are told, whether it’s to do with the schools where we send our kids, or the ever-increasing range of products on supermarket shelves. In IT we talk about ‘best of …
Jon Collins, 01 Nov 2010
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Monitoring for security effectiveness

Workshop In the last of this mini-poll series, we wanted to find out whether the security monitoring mechanisms you have in place are seen as effective. To kick off, we should introduce a couple of factors we thought might make a difference, namely whether you want to monitor, and whether you have to monitor against security breaches. …
Jon Collins, 05 Aug 2010
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Calling data center professionals everywhere

Reader Study How does the world look to you? We want to draw a picture of the world from the point of view of the data center professional - several pictures in fact, depending on the size of your business, the way your IT environment is organized and your role in the whole thing. As I was once told by a senior ops guy, many people "have no …
Jon Collins, 02 Aug 2010
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Managing change in the application portfolio

Workshop Nothing stands still forever, particularly not in IT, and with good reason. When we researched the drivers that were having the most impact on how x86 server environments are architected, evolved and operated for example, we found that data growth was the number one driver, followed closely by new application requirements, and …
Jon Collins, 29 Jul 2010
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The basics of app management

Workshop IT may be complex, but from the perspective of the business, it is just a lot of technical gubbins that sits between the screen and the data. Users access applications and systems with no real clue about what goes on behind the scenes, nor any desire to understand more than how to change a toner cartridge. We can rail at their …
Jon Collins, 26 Jul 2010
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How effective is your security monitoring?

Workshop Poll For many organisations, the litmus test for IT security effectiveness is whether or not security breaches are reduced as a result. Security monitoring should help, but modern environments are complex and multi-faceted, and it can be difficult to determine how much is down to the tools, and how much is down to other factors such …
Jon Collins, 26 Jul 2010
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Collaboration, complexity and compliance

Workshop The trouble with some terms we use in IT is that they take on a life of their own and suggest an unrealistic simplicity. Take “collaboration” for example. To define it requires a decision: either to focus on a limited set of interactions between specific individuals, or more realistically, to recognise that collaboration refers …
Jon Collins, 22 Jul 2010
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Who cares about encryption?

Workshop Poll Results We're used to getting a hundred or so responses from the mini-polls we run, but the 383 responses to our recent encryption survey were indicative of just how important this area is to people. In it, we wanted to gauge the gap between aspiration and reality when it comes to encryption – what you think is necessary, versus what …
Jon Collins, 20 Jul 2010
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The terror beyond the firewall

Workshop “The office” is fast becoming, for many organisations, a thing of the past – at least in terms of the expectation that it is the only place people go to work. If Ricky Gervais remade the series now, he’d have characters on trains trying to conduct negotiations over dodgy mobile signals, and web conferencing between people …
Jon Collins, 19 Jul 2010
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Doing the right thing on ID management isn't enough...

Workshop In a previous article we looked at Identity Management and access provisioning as an end in itself, and from the perspective that there are benefits to be had from being on top of who’s using what. For many organisations, however, identity management is a necessity, imposed through the demands of regulatory compliance. …
Jon Collins, 16 Jul 2010
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Identity management is a pain in the backside

Workshop Identity management in the corporate environment is complex - not to mention, at the coalface, a pain in the backside. In the real world in which you work, password resets are one of the most commonly cited causes of help desk stress – and that’s an identity management problem. People leaving the company and still having …
Jon Collins, 12 Jul 2010
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Are your project timescales shrinking?

Lab When did the two-year project lifecycle die? In my head, I put it at just over a decade ago, when I was involved in an accounting systems replacement exercise. Everything was so clearly mapped out – from requirements capture, to design, selection, integration, testing in a variety of flavours, and all kinds of user education …
Jon Collins, 02 Jul 2010
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Let’s hear it for service centricity

Lab An elderly lady attended a public lecture given by an astrophysicist on how the Earth goes around the Sun and how the Sun circles about with countless other stars in the Milky Way. During the question and answer session, the woman stood up and told the distinguished scientist that his lecture was nonsense, that the Earth is a …
Jon Collins, 29 Jun 2010
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Does business really care about security?

Workshop Poll Results I once read a book that said, among other things, “You can never truly give money away.” The point it was making was that the act of giving has a certain responsibility – if you hand a large wad of cash to a charity, for example, you will want to know that the money is being spent wisely. A good theory perhaps, but it doesn’t …
Jon Collins, 28 Jun 2010
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Getting on top of change management

Lab One of the first articles I ever had to write as an analyst was about change management. In it, I suggested that major IT programmes tend to follow a similar path as the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Of course, this was no great insight: many managers will be familiar with the team- …
Jon Collins, 22 Jun 2010
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Managing the dung heaps of data

Lab The question “What about the 'I' in 'IT'?” serves as an equally good reminder of the point of the ‘T’. But while information allegedly exists to support the business, from the information technology perspective it sometimes seems almost a by-product of all the communications we want to do, all the applications we want to run. …
Jon Collins, 16 Jun 2010