• cloud
  • 25/07/2020
Are IT preconceptions holding the business back?

I was at a conference recently and had some great conversations with people from all walks of the IT and business world. However, there was one common theme I kept hearing “We really need to adopt new technologies to improve but ‘the business’ are not ready and won’t accept change”.

I have been hearing the same line for several years. At first, I felt sorry for them. They obviously see the future, want to help build a progressive business, and yet are held back by dinosaurs in the boardroom. I have met many board members from small companies through to large enterprises and across most verticals, the idea of a dusty old person sat in a smoky director's office using quill and ink is a myth. They just don't exist anymore.

I accept some people are less informed therefore are nervous about technology but rarely do I meet someone having made it to the top who is not open to change. By definition, if you are running a successful business, you have learned to adapt as both customers and company evolve. Over time, ways of thinking becomes habit so in reality, senior individuals are often the most open to new ideas.

If this is true, the board are not holding back. Individuals in business either have prejudices regarding new technologies or are scared of upsetting a few colleagues. When I met people who say "The business won't accept change", I reply differently - don't assume colleagues will reject the idea. If you really believe it will improve the business, you need to be the catalyst. Do not be afraid to challenge the status-quo. Push your vision. Some people may grumble by measurably demonstrating how it will benefit the business is rightfully persuasive. Most people are logical and will adapt.

Below are a few key technologies I hear being dismissed and reasons why.

The Cloud – “ not as secure as having a server in my office?”

I will cover cloud computing first as it is the big one. I met three IT directors from separate SME businesses who all felt their data was safer remaining in their on-site servers than with cloud computing. I enquired about their server estates. To challenge, I simply asked if they have the same protection as modern cloud solutions and this includes:

  • Physical security (i.e. 24-hour guards, fingerprint recognition on all doors, mantrap doors, motion detection, dogs, CCTV, combination locks on every cabinet, background checks on staff, no windows etc)
  • Disaster control (i.e. Fire alarms, non-water based fire suppression)
    Environmental systems (i.e. redundant heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), Rerouted water and heating pipes so they do not cross over or under the server rooms, Moisture and humidity sensors, airflow designed to prevent eddies from allowing equipment to overheat, anti-static floors)
    Hardware resilience (N+1 firewalls, routers, switches, servers, SAN fabric, storage etc)
  • Network security (DDOS Protection, threat analysis, isolated VLANs)
  • Power delivered from two different substations, cleansed by UPS’s and backed by redundant generators with enough diesel on-hand to run for days
  • Internet delivered from two difference exchange using diverse carriers and multiple technologies (Fibre, copper, cell etc)
  • Hundreds of specialist engineers
  • Do you perform thousands of hours of testing before every change?
  • Are you on police priority lists?
  • And 24-hour NOC monitoring all of the above?

I could go on but I think I have made my point. Most businesses cannot justify the cost or upheaval required that comes close to the security and resilience delivered by good cloud services. I have worked in both small companies and huge data centres. I fully understand anyone can suffer downtime. No system is perfect. However, I understand and know from experience most reputable cloud providers come closer to perfect than any solution your business can try building on premise. In short, your data is probably safer with a cloud computing provider (but check which one).

On-line Backup – “We have tape and that’s enough!”

People like what they can see. They think if they can touch a tape they know it is real. However, you need to ask yourself:

  • How often do you backup your data? If it is nightly, are your directors aware they would lose a day of data in the event of a server failure?
  • Do they realise it may take days to source a new server before you can begin restoring data?
  • Is one copy of your backup data enough – physical media can be damaged
  • Do you get it off-site? Is this a secure location? (After all, your business data in a nice all-in-one package!)
  • How do you verify each backup? Do you perform daily integrity checks?
  • Do you have sign-off for the financial risk if you had to wait to recover from a slow backup system?

Data backup is made simple with a solid disk-to-disk backup solution that transfers off-site. It is of worth to understand when you analyse the true cost of running tape backup it is usually a similar cost.

Outsourcing – “We trust our IT guys!”

The problem is not an issue of trust nor competency. It is about skills, availability and cost. Outsourcing a task or function does not automatically make people redundant. You may have a great team. Does that make them experts in every technology under the sun? The direction of your business should not be limited by the knowledge of your IT staff. If you need support then do not be afraid to look externally.

Having an IT expert come in who can help your team implement a new system will mean the project completion time will be faster. Your staff will benefit from professional IT services, learning valuable knowledge and receive the on-going support they need.

Challenging a decision not to do something is as important as challenging a decision to do something. If you find yourself wanting to make a change but believe it will not be accepted, ask yourself “is this going to help the business and its employees?”. If the answer is yes, make it happen. Research the topic, get support if you need it, present a business case, explain the reason and become known as the person in the office who makes it happen.

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