Build the Perfect IT Support and Management Disaster
By Howard Podgurski
In a word, it’s “convergence.”
For years we have been hearing about the convergence of voice and data. The adoption rate was slow because the user experience for managing multiple devices was nearly impossible for all but the most tech-savvy users. Thanks to Apple, Microsoft and others, this problem mostly has been solved.
The issue that is largely unresolved is how to support these converging technologies for small and medium sized businesses. Think about it: multifunction printers/scanners, VOIP phone systems, multiple model smart phones, cloud based applications, LAN/ server based applications, support for Microsoft Exchange and POP3 email — all need to work seamlessly and have a user friendly experience.
Very few small and midsize organizations have an enforceable policy about what networkable user devices they will support and how it should be maintained. Asking your IT support to be an expert on an almost infinite number of devices is like asking Democratic and Republican politicians to agree on taxes. Neither will ever happen.
So, how do you support converging technologies? Ideally, the following things should happen:
First, no technology should ever be placed into a production environment without being tested both for compatibility and how system performance will be affected.
Secondly, centralized monitoring of network services should be implemented. Any device or application connected to the network depends on certain network services in order to maintain connection and compatibility. These services need to be identified and shared with all technology support providers.
The third and most often over looked item is establishing a chain of notification and ownership of the problem and a verification of the resolution of the problem.
Lastly, have a maintenance and patch management policy for all devices and software that verifies continued performance and compatibility with the network. For a better understanding of the business and technical value of patch management, the following is a very good article: Patch Management: No Longer Just an IT Problem.
These basic steps for supporting converging technologies will significantly reduce down time and decrease the mean time to resolving a problem that might occur.