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IT's worst addictions (and how to cure them)

Dan Tynan | Feb. 14, 2012
Jargon, data, power -- the first step to IT recovery is recognizing the monkey on your back

The cure: Most IT pros are fixated on initial purchase price when they should be analyzing total cost of ownership, says Howard. A hard look at real costs may help curb their addiction to the latest and greatest of everything.

"Forget about the prices of the server or the storage," he says. "The important questions to ask are how much it will cost you to deploy, manage, maintain, and run these things over their lifetimes. Most companies let the vendors tell them what's included in TCO. Most vendors usually don't include the important stuff."

IT addiction no. 6: Illusions of securityIn an age when hackers make headlines almost daily, it's easy to see why many enterprise IT shops have developed a serious security habit. The problem? You can pour millions into building a "bulletproof" network, only to discover that it isn't -- and never will be.

"IT departments are addicted to the perception of security," says Headspring's Palermo. "They think it's something you can turn on and off like a switch. Instead of using policy to guide employees about how to properly handle information, they embrace things like PINs, passwords, and user roles that offer the illusion of security."

Ron Bittner, IT director at computer parts distributor National Parts Depot, says security is still a crapshoot, especially for smaller organizations.

"I've established and monitored firewalls, antivirus, and other security tools, and I still don't know conclusively whether I'm properly protected," says Bittner, a 20-year IT veteran who has also worked for major book publishers and film studios. "Without major resources to dedicate staff to computer security, SMBs are constantly worried they haven't bulletproofed their operations so that amateur or organized hackers can't get to it."

The cure: Embrace the reality that no network or organization can ever be 100 percent secure. Close the security gap through traceability, says Palermo.

"You want to keep improper access to data from happening, but once it does happen, you need to trace it back to its source," he says. "You want to be able to find the employee who broke company policies or the ISP that hosted the outside person coming in. And you want to advertise your traceability efforts so that people who try to break in know they're not going to get away with it. Technologists are constantly coming up with better ways to protect our data. Along with their advancements, rigorous traceability measures can be a powerful deterrent and smart investment."

IT addiction no. 7: Delusions of grandeurCall it the myth of omnipotence. Technology has progressed at such an astounding rate that many become addicted to the notion that anything is possible -- no trade-offs or sacrifices required.


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