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Lack of Innovation in IT Holding Companies Back? 205

bednarz writes to mention that Google's Dave Girouard, manager of enterprise business, is blaming a "crisis" in IT and the "insane complexity" of technology, among other things, for the lack of innovation that could allow businesses to grow. "A lot of things that people think of as core IT functions need to disappear into the ether so that the IT organization can properly focus on the value-added [activities]," he said. "Information security, as critical as it is, needs to be taken care of by organizations who live and die by it, who invest the money, time, resources and staff. Why should every company in the world have to build up their own expertise and have to maintain servers and provide security?"
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Lack of Innovation in IT Holding Companies Back?

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  • Executive Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:03PM (#17740310)
    Article breakdown:

    30%: IT spends too much maintaining complex systems and not innovating new ones. Farm out the maintenance.

    5%: Adding eye candy, bells and whistles to software makes it more complex and therefore more difficult to maintain.

    65%: Google Apps should be used by everyone.

    See any serious problems with this story? Sure! "Lack of content" springs to mind.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:08PM (#17740372)
      Summary of the summary:

      Google Executive says, "You should use our products."
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:31PM (#17740734) Homepage
      Or lack of any business sense as well..

      Let's see farm out the security and core operation of the company's IT infrastructure to another company. Will you give them key's to the building and the combination to your safes as well? Because they will have access to all your plans, documents, and other information that is secret to your company... These managers never pull their heads out of their ass far enough to see that until you spell it out for them. We had to do that at Comcast once. They wanted to have a 3rd party company take over some critical security, Executives were unwavering until they were told point blank, "do you trust this company with your private info and the contents of your laptop? Under Sarbanes oxley, if they screw up it's YOUR HEAD that rolls not theirs..."

      IT is a cost of doing business, just like sales and marketing, why the suits want to farm out everything they do not understand themselves is never understood by those that actually do the work. They never farm out SALES or management to a 3rd party, IT is as critical to the business as sales and management.
      • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:45PM (#17740932) Homepage

        Will you give them key's to the building and the combination to your safes as well?

        You already give your keys and access codes to your "physical" security company.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by lukas84 ( 912874 )
          Not to the server room, saves, or executive offices.
          • by Darth ( 29071 )
            Yeah. Only the janitorial staff has access to those.

            (it's a joke. i know the janitors don't really have access to the safe and the server room)
            • (it's a joke. i know the janitors don't really have access to the safe and the server room)

              It is a joke, and yes, they do often have access. I'm sure they still make $7/hr and have no concept of what the machines do. They sure are loud and annoying, though...

      • IT is a cost of doing business, just like sales and marketing, why the suits want to farm out everything they do not understand themselves is never understood by those that actually do the work.

        It's because the "suits" mostly come from a background of S&M (sales & marketing) and have a deep-seated resentment being at the mercy of in-house IT from days of their pasts. As they worked their way up thru the corporate ladders and finally made the big time after almost all of them having "payed their dues
        • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @05:05PM (#17743160) Journal
          Nick,
          You make a great point, but I think it's more systemic than that. It comes from this post-90's view that all a company needs to do to boost its stock price is to close a few locations and fire 15% of their employees. Call it "Profit by the Thousand Cuts".

          So IT directors are just taking their cues from the CEOs (because many of them want desperately to become CEO) and measure their job by how far they can cut costs. Forget about how miserable your internal customers are. Just the fact that the people who work in your company are now considered "internal customers" show that they are considered fodder, not humans. When you decide that with enough properly written protocols you can hire total morons and still get the job done, it's only a matter of time. You are finished.

          There was a fascinating story last night on The Marketplace on NPR. It was about the fact that the steady growth in productivity we've seen in this country since, well, since the beginning is finally beginning to slow down. It means that we may have reached the limit of what you can expect out of workers, regardless of the income-level. We've squeezed workers to the point that marriages are failing, children are ignored and people have to be miserable if they want to pay their bills. Workers are made "management" so they can't get paid for overtime. The wonderful 7am "working breakfast" meetings become common. A CEO's effectiveness is measured by how many people he can lay off.

          I had an uncle, an Italian immigrant, who measured the success of his business by how many people he employed, not how few.

          Expect to see a renewed interest in collective bargaining in the coming decade. People are tired of being used. Squeezed. Being asked to give more while getting less. If the US is going to keep from becoming a third world country, we better realize that our people are our most important resource. The people who work downstairs, not the CEOs in the suite pulling down 9-figure incomes, who get 7-figure bonuses for closing factories.

          Seriously, I pray we start to turn this around before blood has to be spilled over the division between The Rich and The Rest.
          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            It means that we may have reached the limit of what you can expect out of workers, regardless of the income-level. We've squeezed workers to the point that marriages are failing, children are ignored and people have to be miserable if they want to pay their bills. Workers are made "management" so they can't get paid for overtime. The wonderful 7am "working breakfast" meetings become common. A CEO's effectiveness is measured by how many people he can lay off.

            It's possible all that is true, but the Marketplac [publicradio.org]

        • It's because the "suits" mostly come from a background of S&M (sales & marketing) and have a deep-seated resentment being at the mercy of in-house IT from days of their pasts.
          so what you are saying is that crippling lusers desktops while a good idea short term doesn't turn out to have been such a good idea when those lusers become your management?
        • There are good CEOs/VPs/etc and bad ones; good ones understand that if their company depends on certain technological tools to work (VoIP phones, email, calender/meeting stuff, filesharing), they'd damn well better consider the costs of downtime versus the overhead of providing adequate IT support in-house.

          Poor CEO/VP/senior management types can and do behave exactly as you've described, but the end results generally don't work as well as what you find from a good manager. The cold hard truth is that the s

      • Many companies farm out sales. I can think of a couple easy examples.

        First is manufacturers. Many use indepenent sales reps (manufacturer's reps) rather than an in house sales staff. They also use distributors who handle product sales to retailers.

        Next is travel related businesses. They use all sorts of commission based plans to farm out their sales.

        There are generic sales firms that will sell *anything* for a commission. You give them the leads and they will hit the streets. I've dealt with those gu
      • "do you trust this company with your private info and the contents of your laptop? Under Sarbanes oxley, if they screw up it's YOUR HEAD that rolls not theirs..."

        Finally, a reason to like SOX.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      30%: IT spends too much maintaining complex systems and not innovating new ones. Farm out the maintenance.

      Complex systems require a certain amount of vertical application expertise by definition, at least if an effective level of support is the desired end result.

      Often this expertise takes several *years* to develop effectively.

      In many industries, that expertise also tends to be company-specific in nature (and not just industry-specific) because the application software is very tightly coupled to

    • by arivanov ( 12034 )
      No. "Infomercial" springs to mind.
    • Yes, the article was covering a talk that he gave, basically to sell his comnpany's services. All I can say is that I hope nobody actually listens to this guy.

      I'm not going to post my rant on here. It's way too long. If anyone wants to peruse it, you can read it in my blog [blogspot.com].
  • Google. What a mystique! They can 'innovate' new forms of -

    Cross-site scripting exploits:
    http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2007-01-01-n12 .html [outer-court.com]
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=338 [zdnet.com]

    Exposure of personal and sensitive data:
    http://www.finjan.com/Pressrelease.aspx?id=1261&Pr essLan=1230&lan=3 [finjan.com]

    Data loss:
    http://dream.sims.berkeley.edu/MT/vanhouse/archive s/000663.html [berkeley.edu]
    http://googlewatch.eweek.com/content/google_featur es/google_email_troubles_continue.html [eweek.com]

    Site failure:
    http://status.blogger.com/ [blogger.com]

    Privacy vio
  • It's the end of the (IT) world as we know it [slashdot.org] - a riff on Carr's "IT Doesn't Matter" memo.
  • Why should every company in the world have to build up their own expertise and have to maintain servers and provide security?

    I work for a medical device manufacturer that brings incredible levels of scrutany to its suppliers. The parts we receive from them must strictly meet requirements and are carefully qualified. So how is it the same company tolerates the dreck software that comes out of Redmond, pays millions annually for it, and must employ an army of techicians to keep it running? It is an astonish

  • My god... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:09PM (#17740386)
    ---"A lot of things that people think of as core IT functions need to disappear into the ether so that the IT organization can properly focus on the value-added [activities]," he said. "Information security, as critical as it is, needs to be taken care of by organizations who live and die by it, who invest the money, time, resources and staff. Why should every company in the world have to build up their own expertise and have to maintain servers and provide security?"

    It comes down to ownership and renting..

    Would you rather own your home, or rent it? Would you rather rent a car or own it?

    Thats right, we can pay Google Apps to take care of our network architecture because we cant be bothered with it... Until they perceive a "non-payment".. What happens then when the lights go out? Do the DNS servers stop working, do the samba servers get rm'ed? Or does the master-password holders (READ google) just shut down every network appliance you all are using?

    Not smart. Not smart at all...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is smart, very smart, if...

      You get the drudge work standard maintenance & operations done by a trusted qualified vendor.

      Medical Device firms have been specializing for the last 15-20 years and their is now an ISO standard for Strategic Partner relationships.

      One company does manufacturing only for a range of "Medical Device Companies" but Strategic Partners often do all the manufacturing.

      Only the trade secret, bleeding edge, developmental and core competancy items are retained in house.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )
      Rent. I can move without much hassle, and when shit breaks, somebody else (who specializes in repair) fixes it. I also have much better landscaping than any of the homeowners I know.

      And while the stock market appreciates on average 10%/year, the real estate market is only 6%/year. Equity in real estate is wasted money.

      Rent.
      • And when the owner decides to raise your rent, you can just move, right?

        No thanks, I prefer to have a bit more control over my destiny. When I last rented, the landlord raised the rent 4% per year (the maximum allowed in rent-controlled San Francisco) every other year. My house payment (which is tax-deductible, btw) will be the same in five years as it is right now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moridin42 ( 219670 )
        And the reason that stocks earn, on average, more than real estate is because stocks do nothing but generate interest. That is their only value.

        Real estate, on the other hand, provides you with a place to build a home. or a business. Or.... and this will be shocking, I know, some apartments with which you can then allow people to rent from you. At which point you'd get to earn not only the 6% real estate but whatever interest your netprofits on the rent earn you.
      • by kfstark ( 50638 )
        And while the stock market appreciates on average 10%/year, the real estate market is only 6%/year. Equity in real estate is wasted money.

        Umm.. Investing 101 for you:

        Invest $120,000 as 50% down in a $240,000 margin account: $24,000/year increase in assets.

        Invest $120,000 as 20% down in a $600,000 house at 6%: $36,000/year increase in assets.

        Even if you pay $1,000 extra/month in mortgage + upkeep in your home vs cost of renting, you still have an increase of $24,000/year.

        Also, the risk of buying property is
        • Investing 102 for you:

          I have friends who spend about as much on maintenance (painting, mowing, sump pumps, insurance, dishwasher, etc.) as I pay in rent. This is NOT overly simplistic (unlike your contribution, which was simplistic way past being wrong). So they lose 100% of that money as I lose 100% of my rent. We are equal so far.

          With the rest of the money:
          • Homeowner gets 6% on his equity vs. renter's 10% on the market. Renter wins.
          • Homeowner gets 6% on his borrowed amount, but ends up getting 0% after dedu
      • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) *
        wow, just wow, stunningly stupid. You really need to re-investigate investment ideas. Check out some warren buffet material.
      • And while the stock market appreciates on average 10%/year, the real estate market is only 6%/year. Equity in real estate is wasted money. Ummmmmm.....when you own your home and move out, you take a big fat check with you. All of that "rent" you've been paying your mortgage company.

        When you move out of a rental you get your security deposit back.

        Can you please explain how renting is a better option financially?
    • Similar arguments were made "back-in-the-day" with respect to the fundamental need for electricity. Would you rather generate your own or "rent" it off of the grid? Similar situation, yet the vast majority of people and companies weighed the economic and risk factors and went with a shared provider.
      • yes and there are a few reasons for that.

        the biggest being that electricity carries HUGE economies of scale.

        another being that backup local generation plus third party power most of the time carries a lower total cost than complete local generation, i doubt you could say the same about data systems.

        another being that grid electricity at least in the west is amazingly reliable. far far more reliable than most peoples connection to the internet or thier isps connection to googles servers.

        the big issue though
    • Simple Solutions:
      Keep the Data yourself in an open format
      Pay for service in advance just like you would if you bought the materials/talent necessary to do it yourself.
    • Anybody who's actually shelled out for real enterprise shiteware as opposed to something shrinkwrapped at Best Buy knows that renting and owning are essentially equivalent. We "bought" Remedy and Siebel, but still have to pay huge costs to maintain them, and in my judgment our software is LESS secure and available than if we were running all this crap as a service, because we are much less likely to keep everything patched and up to date. Mostly because IT doesn't like working every weekend from 1 AM to 8 A
    • Re:My god... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @03:15PM (#17741440)
      Would you rather own your home, or rent it? Would you rather rent a car or own it?

      Those are bad analogies because that is apples and oranges comparisons.
      By default if given the choice you should own a home (even though the bank still owns it for the next 30 years) because house prices increase whereas you car price decreases.

      This is what makes leasing attractive to some, but that is almost the same as owning.

      By what you really mean would be would you rather take public transportation to work or own your own car to work.

      The traveling to work is not the end result of your actually work and not even an actual process of it other than getting your feet to it. Given the choice of maintainece you most likely can't fix your own car anyways so if it breaks you have to hand it off to a 3rd party.

      If public transportation breaks, you'll see a delay but you won't actually have to pay for it directly and chances are they will route a new bus to your pickup.

      But you can't add your own custom products to the public system and you can't make it go to exact places at any given time like your normal car. So both have their benefits and detractors.
    • Would you rather own your home, or rent it?

      Own it, because land generally appreciates in value.

      Would you rather rent a car or own it?

      Rent it (lease it) because cars do the opposite.

      Those things which bring no value to the organization should be leased/outsourced, those that do should be owned/kept internal. Pretty simple concept, really.
      • Rent it (lease it) because cars do the opposite.

        Have you ever leased a car? Do you know how it works? Very often, you end up paying just as much, if not more, than if you had bought the car and sold it when you were done with it.

        There are 2 main reasons for leasing: You can't/don't want to afford a proper down payment and/or in a business situation you have already hit your capex for the year and need to figure out how to depreciate another asset.
        • Have you ever leased a car? Do you know how it works?

          Yes, and yes. And it is completely false that you usually spend more leasing than buying.

          When you buy a vehicle, you pay the amount that the vehicle is worth that day. So if you're buying a BMW 3-series, it'll be somewhere in the high-20s or low-30s. When you lease, you pay what the vehicle is worth today, minus what the vehicle is projected to be worth when the lease is over. If the vehicle is projected to lose half its value, then you'll pay for half of
          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            So if you're buying a BMW 3-series, it'll be somewhere in the high-20s or low-30s.

            Off-topic, but these days the cheapest new 3 series is $32,400.

            1) If you want the same vehicle for more than the typical two to three years, it'll almost certainly be cheaper to buy. But most people (especially in the US) get a new vehicle every three years on average.

            Can someone explain this to me? My wife and I have bought three cars so far. One is 17 years old, has about 250K miles on it, and is still in use (though by h

            • Can someone explain this to me? My wife and I have bought three cars so far. One is 17 years old, has about 250K miles on it, and is still in use (though by her parents, not us). Another is 8 years old, the third 2, and we'll probably have each of them for 10-15 years. Do people like sinking so much of their income into cars, or feel insecure without a new car, or buy crappy cars and so have to replace them frequently, or what? I don't get it.

              It is nice to drive around in a new car. I recently replaced my o

    • To everybody that responded, read my journal.

      YHBT. YHL. HAND.
    • by nasch ( 598556 )

      It comes down to ownership and renting.. Would you rather own your home, or rent it? Would you rather rent a car or own it? Thats right, we can pay Google Apps to take care of our network architecture because we cant be bothered with it...

      No, because we're not talking about a product, such as a house or a car. We're talking about a service. It's a service if you outsource it, and it's a service if you don't. The difference is who you're paying every month to do it, your own employees or another compan

  • Shocking! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info@dev[ ]oore.com ['inm' in gap]> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:10PM (#17740400) Homepage Journal
    A company buys enormous data centers, the kind one might use to farm out a business' IT infrastructure needs, and then that company promotes... farming out business' IT infrastructure needs! Whaaa?!
  • Complex? Oh yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:15PM (#17740492)
    Just look at J2EE, EJB in particular. For many clients, it'd be cheaper to just write your own custom remote objects system using RMI. Cheaper and a lot easier too. "Enterprise" anything is typically very complicated and poorly documented. It's sad to see how bureaucratic it's become, but a lot of these things are, I think, complicated just to make work for people like consultants. I look at half the stuff that I have to work with, and it's far more complicated to get these huge, unwieldy apps to work together than to write most of the code.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bwy ( 726112 )
      I agree with you. Web services also come to mind. Long before SOAP left the bathtub and entered our computers, people were exchanging XML over HTTP all the time. It generally worked well- what is so hard about it- you agree on a schema, build the document, transmit it, and the other guy parses and uses it. Done. Minimal code, lightweight, functional.

      Nowadays, Thou Shalt use Web Services. This means layers of super complex descriptors, marshaling code, etc. It seems as though one is always fighting
      • by rnturn ( 11092 )

        ``Because I know this concept of everyone communicating exclusively over web services discovered via UDDI is a pipe dream.''

        Haven't you heard? They're tubes. Not pipes.

  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:22PM (#17740598)
    Try signing up for Google Checkout to sell things on Google Base... It's a disconnected nightmare process.

    Google does search & email well. The rest... right up there with everyone else.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:22PM (#17740606)

    IT organization can properly focus on the value-added [activities]

    Yeah, I could see your point - if you define the function of IT that way. Most people out there though, don't. They see IT as the tech problem-solvers in the business. Fix that computer, hook me to such-and-such across VPN, get rid of my spyware.

    If you want to have a group of guys doing value added activities, hire some engineers or more IT staff and define their job responsibilities that way. And once you do, don't bug them with other stuff. If they're supposed to be idea guys, let them do that and that only. Don't interrupt them with your secretary's spyware problem.

    • Indeed... I love these bullshit articles.

      Our VP has his e-mails printed out for him by his assistant becasue Outlook is too difficult for him to use.

      I.T. would be a lot easier and effecient if it wasn't for the morons who make the decisions. ...Should we be expecting the "Older I.T. people don't keep their skills up to date" or the "Paperless Office" article next?
  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:24PM (#17740640) Journal
    The Federal Government, which pays for most of the innovation in the US (directly through r&d contracts, or indirectly through grants) has cut back on its tech spending to free up money for the war.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by monopole ( 44023 )
      Dead on. But it gets worse, the remaining R&D is focused on short term Iraq related technology particularly IED countermeasures.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The Federal Government, which pays for most of the innovation in the US (directly through r&d contracts, or indirectly through grants) has cut back on its tech spending to free up money for the war.

      Defense money, now as in the 1950s, does in substantial fashion go to tech innovation. You might have heard of a few of the (D)ARPA projects; in fact, you're using one now.

  • by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:26PM (#17740662)
    More like 'lack of budget.'

    How can we address 'lack of expanding?' Whenever someone trots out a Vista post we're reminded there's still businesses out there running on a Win 2000 network because 'it just works' and isn't getting replaced.

    I'm sure the poor compitent sysadmin of that 2K network has plenty of ideas how to innovate their network, but they can't requisition the funds for it. Then there's training, dealing with the migration... Sure, it can happen, but no one outside IT sees the advantage in it.
    • You are exactly correct, but it is likely that this same windows 2K admin spent 50K on a exchange server
      licensing instead of a better use like upgrading his clients or even better their hardware. Innovation requires little money it requires knowledge and using what you have available to do it cheaper and better than your competitors.

  • Smart companies read this report and outsource customer data security infrastructure, which after all is just a cost center, but maintain the same old IT staff to protect their own earth shattering competitive corporate secrets.
  • Control, is why most mid->large companies have a sizable in-house IT infrastructure. Farming out IT to companies like Google, may save money, but it reduces flexibility. It also creates a situation where you completely dependent on a another party. Whats your exit strategy?

    A Google exec telling companies to outsource IT, is like a Microsoft exec telling companies to use Windows.

    Given Google's recent missteps; In a few years, suggesting we outsource core IT functions to Google might be as laughable as suggesting we outsource core IT functions to Microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )
      ``A Google exec telling companies to outsource IT, is like a Microsoft exec telling companies to use Windows.''

      No, it's like Microsoft telling companies to use commodity software, rather than writing their own. Which makes a whole lot of sense. Just like in the Google case, you lose flexibility. Also like the Google case, it's Good Enough for many situations. Again like the Google case, we should hope not everyone outsources to the same company.
  • What are some specific examples of places where companies are lacking innovation? Can you think of any? And if you can, is your company's IT security and maintenance keeping that innovation from being implemented at a good pace? Areas like Scanning? Document collaboration? File sharing? Data backups/retention? Storage? Graphic Arts? Project planning? Billing? Finance? Operations? Marketing? and on and on...

    • It's very often not the IT personnel blocking innovation: many of the IT people I know are fonts of innovation, and of the streamlining that helps reduce company costs in their love of making systems work. Rather, they face a middle management hurdle of immense difficulty. Having to spend 3 hours making a powerpoint slide because that's the approved format, doing it all over to add company logos, spending 3 distinct meetings with 3 managers at each, and having to present a complete cost/benefit analysis bef
  • blaming a "crisis" in IT and the "insane complexity" of technology, among other things, for the lack of innovation that could allow businesses to grow.

    Of course. The people at the top don't understand technology. The people at the bottom that do, don't sell it to the top. The people at the top don't ask for input from the lower ranks to guide change. So there will never be a coherent vision of technology. The largest companies (the non-tech ones) will always be 20 years behind on technology. The peo
    • Of course. The people at the top don't understand technology. The people at the bottom that do, don't sell it to the top.

      It's not for lack of trying, believe me... :-(

  • I agree. Much of IT work (almost everything I see around me) is recreating, redoing, and reinventing things that already exist. Some of that duplication is useful (to avoid monocultures, for example), but how many web fora, AJAX frameworks, customer relationship management packages, accounting apps, programming languages, hardware drivers, etc. etc. do we really need?

    If even 50% of the effort spent on duplicating old things was spent implementing new things, a lot of progress could be made. It's not really
  • Insane Complexity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:52PM (#17741048) Homepage Journal
    The way I see it is that you have trade offs. You can make things "simple" like Microsoft does by having software that makes assumptions about what you want to do. If you have minimal and non-specific needs, then you won't have much of an issue. You'll also be able to get away with less skilled workers to accomplish your basic goals. But if you want to do something very specialized and the assumptions don't support it, then that approach will get in your way. And your less skilled workers will become a detriment if you need to move to something a bit more complex.

    On the other side of the coin you have other OSes (*nix OpenVMS and others) that have a good deal more flexibility in terms of allowing you to do virtually anything. But this will require more skill in your workforce and natually more complexity. There is not currently a way to have less complexity and a high degree of flexibility and power. There just isn't. Even Microsoft is learning that lesson as they add PowerShell (previously Monad) to Exchange 2007. They've finally seen the light that what you really want is a set of powerful and small tools that do one job well (the CLI) and then you layer your "ease of use" on top of that. So I expect that future MS products will probably earn the gripe of being "complicated" by less skilled people who entered the IT industry in the 90s as paper MCSEs.

    There's no way around it. Computers ARE complex machines and they become even more complex when you want to do something really unique and innovative. This is why there is no equivalent of Exchange on the Mac OS Server platform. Zimbra is about the closest thing and it's not exactly friendly. But if you're a real IT guy, that's not a problem.
  • The Google Application Service... What do you reckon? $20 per month per seat? Something like that?

     
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:59PM (#17741152) Homepage
    He's right about the problems.

    It's not clear Google is the answer.

    He doesn't explain how THEY deal with complexity except by throwing money and servers and data centers at it - which is pretty much how everyone else deals with it (and which is self-defeating eventually).

    Self-defeating - almost a definition of the human condition.

    Take IT in small business - or don't. Don't even get me started. I'm constantly getting clients who complain to me how long it takes for me to solve their problems. While I don't say it directly, the real issue is that EVERY small business using computers has done it wrong from day one. If they hadn't screwed up from the beginning, they wouldn't need to call me to straighten out their mess.

    I doubt there is ONE small or medium business that hasn't screwed up. They bought the wrong machines, they bought the wrong OS, they bought the wrong application software, they bought the wrong networking hardware, they set up everything wrong, they didn't plan anything, they didn't ask anyone how to do it, they don't train, they don't back up, they don't maintain anything, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    Then they wonder why it takes a tech two days to do something as apparently simple as rebuild a PC.

    It's because they are SO fucked up NOBODY could have done it faster.

    NO human can take responsibility for their actions.

  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @03:00PM (#17741178) Homepage
    The premise of the Google exec was that companies could save money by outsourcing servers, e-mail, security, etc., thereby freeing up IT budget for innovation. This is wrong because:
    • Servers, e-mail, security, and whatever else "Google Apps" offers now or in the forseeable future is a small portion of any company that has any kind of serious IT going on. Most companies have a lot of custom apps, or at least highly-customized "off-the-shelf" solutions. I don't see Google offering a solution to reduce costs in that area.
    • Any cost savings from outsourcing will not translate into increased corporate R&D. The PHBs and bean-counters will just give themselves raises.
    • The PHB raises are not just because of greed, but because "forward-looking" on today's Wall Street means the next quarter -- thus no R&D.
    • The biggest barrier to innovation is corporate culture. The Google exec even touts that as a benefit within Google, but fails to mention it as a barrier in companies other than Google. I still remember the first time many years ago that I made what I thought was an innovative suggestion within a Fortune 500 company, and then hearing the response, "that's nice to have," and feeling flattered. Only a few minutes later I came to realize that in corporate-speak "nice to have" really means "not nice to have" because "nice to have" is meant to mean "it's nice to have but not needed to have, so we won't be doing that".
    • Sarbanes Oxley. Nothing much else happens in the IT departments of publicly traded companies these days except for SOX compliance.
    • Innovation is easier when everything's in house. Having servers, e-mail, security, etc. outsourced creates barriers to deep integration and high degrees of customization.
    Despite the wrongness of the Google exec's assertion, it will be well received by PHBs because they'll get to cut costs while simultaneously pretending to be in favor of innovation.
  • I blame Software Patents.

    IMO, SW patents are propably the only type of patent that has such a low value (as in $) that nobody would refer to it to improve or add value to an existing project, expired patent or not!
  • Since bandwidth became so cheap. The same way road and rail made factories and supermarkets inevitable. Centralisation of services makes huge economic sense. Bye bye lots of developers and admins... We're seeing the end of the cottage industry. There are basically going to be four options for existing IT practitioners.

    1: Get out there and compete with Google. Build your own data centres and application services.
    2: Find a niche they aren't filling.
    3: Build/write a Google killer.
    4: Do something else entirely.
  • As someone who provides network security services for a very large university I would like to voice my opinion on this subject. When one company is allowed to become very experienced in a subject and provide that experience to a large audience the one thing that is often overlooked is the signifigance of a flaw in that service. Case in point, Cisco routers: Cisco routers move data around the internet, their penetration is everywhere, you can always find trained people to run your routers. That is all good.
    • by Draknor ( 745036 )
      So if 25 companies use the services of www.imasecuritypro.com (fake URL) and imasecuritypro hires someone who lacks competency or worse yet lacks scruples 25 companies are suddenly in peril.

      I agree that monoculture is bad, which is what you are saying here. But setting aside the monoculture bit, what is the alternative? 25 companies all trying to run IT shops securely, when that is not a core competency for them. I would argue that you still have 25 companies in peril. And worse, they may not know or rea
      • But setting aside the monoculture bit, what is the alternative? 25 companies all trying to run IT shops securely, when that is not a core competency for them.

        A well made valid point. I do not believe that every company should have a network security department. However, they should have a competent individual in a security officer type of position whom they invest in training etc.. for. This person would be responsible for coordinating audits by 2 or more security firms and understanding enough about sec
  • I think it more of a lack of standardization that holds companies back. So many companies have to design this so that can integrate seamlessly with such and such. Where I work, we've got a few database systems. we have to use a complex activeX control thru windows IE to access these databases (running on linux) just to do our job, when it'd have been far easier to just have all the machines running linux, so you wouldn't need all the extra mess in the way.
  • wow, sure glad we never see stories on outsourcing vs in house on Slashdot. This discussion can be summed up by this conversation between Batman and Robin.

    Robin:Holy crap batman, we hired incompetent staff members, better outsource!

    Batman: But if we outsource all the geeks will know where the Batcave is and they will steal our technology!

    Robin: Your ideas suck Batman.

    Batman: You are an incompetent fool with no foresight.

    Robin runs off crying, having lost all remaining respect of his mentor

  • This is actually a crisis of money to back good ideas. A great VC guy would set up a system where engineers and techies could send in the ideas and then have the VC try to back it with good business ppl. As it is now, an engineer has to have the idea, develop it, and still line up their own business guy who will probably take 80% of the company for themselves.
  • I work in the opposite environment where no one who is salaried by the Parent Company is permitted to do anything other than manage vendors who manage our business. Ironically we are a company dependent upon software performance.

    We don't actually know what our servers are doing for us. Everything has to be funnelled through the contractors as a price. If they left, we wouldn't have anything to call a business.

    Perhaps some aspects can be turned over to companies that specialize in something. But there'

  • This is similar to saying I can't live alone. Well yes you can live alone, the caveman were able to do so can you. Sure now we have these new fangled devices like cell phones, e-mail, and motion pictures on the puter, what ever that is but is it really IT's fault you can't understand them?

    The simple fact is IT is normally seen as one thing "technical support" and technical support usually means "my program is not working". I was hired into a couple IT departments, one at a finance company and one at Harv
  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @04:00PM (#17742228)
    Ahem: Privacy.

    The problem with using Google tools is that the data that goes into them is no longer "yours" in that it resides soley on your servers, your systems, etc. Google may claim to use this only for special needs, etc but the bottom line is that businesses live and die by their internal info and a combination of good sense and securities laws forces most of them to keep internal documents internally. As such using external storage of docs or google storage is limited by the extent to which they can trade that data away without losing their jobs.

    Try telling your boss in a publicly traded (or worse yet private) company that what you should do is put your corporate secrets into someone else's hands, and that someone else specializes in mining and sharing information.
  • "Information security, as critical as it is, needs to be taken care of by organizations who live and die by it, who invest the money, time, resources and staff."

    Security guru Bruce Schneier thinks the same way - which is why he founded a company [counterpane.com] to do exactly that.
  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @04:26PM (#17742552) Homepage
    How is a company supposed to innovate if they outsource their staff? Solutions that are honed to very specific company needs can only realistically be achieved by staff that is there who has the business's interest in mind. Outsourcing is a step backward for innovation, not a step forward. Taking security as an example, since it's in the headline of the article....my team has saved the company quite a bit of money, time, and effort ... and is able to put management tasks down to less-skilled operations staff rather than have us involved by coming up with a custom firewall/vpn solution built around iptables and openswan. It works flawlessly at numerous branch office sites, and we even use it internally to segregate networks. Any outsourcer would not only provide less effective service in general, but would have used expensive to license and support hardware and software that likely is a real pain to manage.
  • Why should every company in the world have to build up their own expertise and have to maintain servers and provide security?

    Oh goodie. Google wants to enter the business EDS, IBM and hundreds if not thousands of others have beaten to a bloody wasteland: outsourced commodity data centers. But Google's entering it without the deep government and business contacts that really make these things into profit centers. We've seen this pitch for forty years; there's really nothing innovative about it now.

  • See: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/24/151823 1 [slashdot.org] "Why Don't More CIOs Become CEO?"
  • Having worked in several IT shops it's very clear that, for many businesses, the day-to-day maintenance is dragging down the ability to innovate.

    The answer is not outsourcing, it's differentiation and adoption of IT functions in other business areas. Delegate account administration to HR, since they're in charge of adds/moves/changes for staff anyway. Complex security? Script it or document it, and have your sysadmin deal with the exceptions only. HR begins to discover the employees who can't ever remem
  • I'd be an enthusiastic supporter of outsourcing enterprise services, such as moving corporate email to Google mail. That is if Google would hire someone for enterprise sales and they'd return their fricken phone calls.

    That might be a good start.

    Google goes to the trouble of running the mail servers, providing security and spam filtering. It be easier to leave the mail services to them and dump that bloatware security horror freak show Exchange/Outlook.

    Girouard promoted the software-as-a-service mod

  • 1) We'll spare no expense! (to outsource to non employees)
    2) We'll spare no expense! (yup, we havn't upgraded our test software or environments for over three years now)
    3) staffing cut so low that now projects regularly cancelled, pushed back be cause a key technical person doesn't exist any more or there is ONE where there used to be three. So if the guy is sick, on vacation, in training, gets moved to a higher priority project-- reschedule the project.
    4) Load testing before production? Bwahhaha. "Ju

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