The WSJ missed the point

Nov
18
2009

I read the paper every day. I get the Wall Street Journal delivered to my house.

Say what you will about the Wall Street Journal, but there’s some (usually) great stuff in there.

Anyway, on Monday there was an article called

“It’s a FREE country… so why can’t we pick the technology we use in the office?”

You can catch up with the article here

But I think the WSJ missed the point. The article’s premise about why we (IT) continues to use older technology.

 

First off, if you look at the “Green IT” picture they have (with the birds) you can see that’s an Amiga 500 keyboard with a drawn-in monitor on top.

Heh.

Anyway..

Here’s the premise (quoted directly from the article):


Companies now have an array of technologies at their disposal to give employees greater freedom without breaking the bank or laying out a welcome mat for hackers. “Virtual machine” software, for example, lets companies install a package of essential work software on a computer and wall it off from the rest of the system. So, employees can install personal programs on the machine with minimal interference with the work software.

In my case, I’ve installed a search engine called Google Desktop that lets me quickly scour my hard drive for files, and a product by Xobni Corp. that does something similar for Outlook email, even though neither is approved by my IT department. And those programs have made a world of difference. In a simple test, it took Outlook two minutes to track down an email from a few months ago, based on a few search terms. Xobni found the message before I finished typing the words.

Ow. Sorry, WSJ, you’re missing it guys.

I’m not exactly sure where to start, or how long I want to rant here, so, I’ll just tackle one or two points here.
Here’s the “Jeremy Op-Ed” part…

These “let users do what they will” strategies may, yes, may indeed work out. But not in all cases. They do certainly work out great in “free-wheeling” offices with low numbers of users, and tech-savvy users. They can work where users are willing to partially pay for the direct and indirect costs involved.

This relates to my world. Heck — I actually use Xobni too, and it’s great. But it didn’t work for a while, and I had to figure out how spend my own time on to fix it.

But this strategy is simply not for everyone.

Ultimately, giving up control to the users means more work for an already-overworked IT department.

Giving choice to users means, opens up scenarios that most IT departments would not like to think about.

“Sir, are you running IE, Firefox, Opera or Safari? Great. Um, let me Google, er, Bing to see how to clear out the cache.. hang on.”

(Meanwhile that support call cost the company $125 in hard or soft dollars.)

Ow.

I’m all for giving users what they want — if they can support it themselves and not drain IT resources. But the reality is in most enterprises, giving users “more stuff” end up meaning “MORE WORK” for us, the IT department.

The WSJ goes on to detail one company (Kraft) which allows employees to choose non-standard Macs instead of PCs.

PS: I’m NOT anti-Mac, by the way.. I’m anti-de-standardization. (Hey, I just made up a word!) :-)


Employees who choose Macs are expected to solve technical problems by consulting an online discussion group at Kraft, rather than going through the help desk, which deals mainly with Windows users.

Is this the right solution to the problem? Can users be self-supporting in a complex environment like yours?

And what about virtualization? The WSJ’s idea that you can just give em a VPC and go seems shortsighted to me. Those machines still need patching, lest they get infected and spit evil goo upon other virtual and real machines. There’s no mention of the enterprise-wide virtual desktop issue.. Things that Microsoft Med-V and VMware’s ACE try to solve.

Long story short… I think the WSJ missed the point.

We (IT) don’t control because we WANT to. We control because we HAVE to.

Group Policy is the “in the box” way to control Windows machines. We make things “more standard” to make them “more supportable.” More supportable means that we, in IT have a limited set of issues to troubleshoot, instead of an UNLIMITED set to troubleshoot. (At least we hope.)

I’m all for more freedom, if it doesn’t take US and OUR EYES away from the prize.

What’s the right way to handle this?

Maybe we should all be running Amiga 500s. (I kid.. I kid.. I’m a kidder.)

Comment on my BLOG to continue the discussion.

The link is here:

http://www.gpanswers.com/blog/617-the-wsj-missed-the-point.html

Thanks team!

Thing 4: Gold for the Price of Silver (Repeat from Monday!)
——

I am running a little “Special” on my Group Policy Online University classes. I have exactly SIX people I can offer this deal to, so here goes:

-You get the GOLD kit for the price of the SILVER kit.

What’s in the GOLD kit? Check out
http://www.gpanswers.com/training/online-training-faq.html
and read item #10 for what, exactly, is in the box.

Oh, and you get FIVE “mentoring credits” to use with me — for your own personal course troubleshooting.

And, longer view times, extra perks, yada yada yada…

So, if you’ve always wanted the killer GOLD kit,
but wish it was at a discount,
I have exactly SIX gold kits I can do this for.

So, head over to
http://www.gpanswers.com/training/online-class-signup.html
click the GOLD kit.

Then, at checkout time, use coupon code
GOLD4SILVER
for your “Gold for the price of Silver” kit.

Note the discount taken off means you’ll still have to pay for shipping ($50); the deal is good, but hey, I’m not crazy.

Again, six kits only at this price. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Don’t delay if you’ve always wanted one !

This just in from someone who finished the GPU online courses:


Jeremy is absolutely the best presenter and instructor I have seen. I really would like to get the same type of instruction for other IT courses. He has a wonderful way of sharing his knowledge in a simple, effective way that leaves you thinking “Wow! That makes so much sense. ” After taking his “Group Policy Online University” courses and reading his books I feel like a pro — truly understanding Group Policy. And whenever I have a question, Jeremy is always there to help. I really liked the fact you can review the online course TWICE. It’s almost like getting TWO courses in one. Add in his weekly tips and simply you can’t go wrong. Thanks Jeremy — and your staff for creating a great learning experience that I benefit from every day.

– Glen Morris, Network Administrator, Mondial Assistance

Thanks Glen ! Glad you’ve got that “GP stuff” handled at this point and ready to make your company more productive!

Who’s ready to learn and be like Glen ? Is it you?

Click:
http://www.gpanswers.com/training/online-class-signup.html

Use:
GOLD4SILVER at checkout time.

I’m practically handing you over the keys to car. Get smarter starting today.

Jeremy Moskowitz
GPanswers.com (Group Policy Community)
PolicyPak.com    (PolicyPak Software)

-