This is a two-part article. The first half was published yesterday.
8. A bigger budget.
What Rich Cummins, manager of network services with Fresno's Community Medical Centers wants in 2006 is five per cent of his budget back. The healthcare company, which manages hospitals, clinics and extended-care facilities throughout central California with 6,200 employees, cut back on its IT budget for 2006, which means that a number of important projects will be put off this year.
Cummins has a long list of projects he would do if he could get those dollars back. First, he would hammer out an overall security architecture for his network. The company has a number of point-security solutions in place, but Cummins wants to "take a step back and look at the entire enterprise," he says.
Next, he would continue down the path of server and storage virtualisation that the company has started on. He would also upgrade his core network infrastructure of Cisco switches and routers, and evaluate the company's data-management strategy, particularly its disaster-recovery and business-continuity plans. "We're growing our data at a rate of 200 per cent a year," he says.
As for management, Cummins says he would look at enterprise-wide monitoring tools that would allow his staff to be more proactive regarding issues with the network.
9. More staff.
Cummins says he also would fill out his staff, adding a project manager and a network engineer, positions that are on hold. Joe Poole, manager of technical support at Boscov's Department Stores, says a beefed-up staff is on his wish list.
"Most important, we need to increase our staff," he says. "I need another systems programmer to begin training this year. Our networking guys are overloaded and the server guys can't keep up with their projects. We're way behind on our Linux conversion because of all the distractions."
10. A break from government regulations.
Government regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are putting pressure on businesses to better manage and secure digital data, and enterprise users just want a break.
"Given all the mandated activities of the past few years and all the new technologies that we've had to absorb, the [Sarbanes-Oxley] compliance, [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], all those things and the new technologies we've put in place to deal with those regulations - give us a breather," says Robert Rosen, president of IBM's user group Share. "You feel like you're running a million miles an hour, and you're not making any progress, because the stuff is coming in so fast that you don't have a chance to absorb it. It's one of those things that gets a nervous chuckle," Rosen says. "You think it's funny, but deep down you know it's absolutely true.
11. Simplified SOA.
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) continues to be the big buzz, as enterprise users strive to integrate Web-based applications. Al Tobey, software infrastructure development architect at Priority Health, says he wants that integration to be easier.
"I hope that SOA becomes the integrator's dream: Vendors supply services, and I consume them," Tobey says. "Right now the hype is for everything as a service. Experience makes me think that the right path is somewhere between nothing and everything. I have a number of vendor applications that are providing SOA-labelled services that should allow me to do integration in a much less cumbersome way than before. My wish: that all [independent software vendors] get SOA and I get to reap the benefits regardless of my company's choice of architecture - Java/JEE, .Net, LAMP, whatever."
12. Identity management.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently migrated 1,700 employees to VoIP services as part of a move to a new campus outside Washington, D.C. Eventually, 7,700 employees will work from the new campus using a converged IP backbone, so securing access to the network is critical, says Glenn Rogers, deputy CIO of the FDA.
"One area of interest to us is identity management," Rogers says. "One technology that we would be interested in looking at is smart-card technology with respect to accessing IT services. We're interested in using smart cards for user log-ins."
13. Blogs, streaming content for empowering users.
At the Saugus Union School District the focus will continue this year on empowering its schools by giving teachers access to online content and blogs.
"We plan to continue to build our newly unveiled streaming-content catalogue, with the goal of having some sort of content produced and posted by each school, on at least a weekly basis," says Jim Klein, director of information services and technology at the school district in California. "This means installing additional streaming servers, as well as a good deal of training and coordination with individual school sites while they learn to build digital video content."
Klein also plans a major roll out this month of an open source social networking Web site, called the SUSD Teacher Community site.
"This site, which is based on an open source LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP] application, will allow teachers to keep blogs, create and join interest groups [communities], share files and lesson planes in a secure way," Klein says. "It's something like myspace.com, only it's secured by our network systems, rules and access control lists."
14. Stepped-up security with open source.
Security is on tap for Mike Nix, director of communications technology for IT Services at the Kansas University Hospital Authority in Kansas City. Nix's network supports a teaching hospital with some 11,000 managed nodes and 15 WAN sites. His most important technology plans in 2006 involve implementing 802.1X - both wired and wireless - to enable role-based network access and improve security via Cisco's Network Access Control strategy.
Nix also plans to increase the company's internal intrusion-detection systems by augmenting with the freeware IDS tool Snort, as well as using his organisation's embedded infrastructure of McAfee Antivirus and ePolicy Orchestrator products along with Cisco's Trust Agent. The goal is to make improved security a reality for both wired and wireless users. He also plans to implement "private virtual LANs to segregate users from each other, as well as mitigate or eliminate the spread of viruses that might get through the other initiative."
"I've got a laundry list of projects, but I view these as the most critical areas for improving our service to customers," Nix says.
15. No more patches. Jeff Allred, manager of network services at the Duke University Cancer Center, says he's tired of patching operating systems.
"If I had one thing I would like to see in the coming year, it is for someone, not necessarily Microsoft, but they come to mind for sure, but for someone to release an operating system where all the time and money was spent perfecting the operating system as opposed to worrying about new features, new bells and whistles," he says. "To have someone actually develop [an operating system] that did not have to be patched every month - that is my wish for the New Year."
Case Study: What customers want in this new year (part 2)
Heightened communication, standards, disaster recovery and virtualisation are just a few of the areas IT managers are focused on as they chart their courses for the coming months.
This is a two-part article. The first half was published yesterday.