Posts Tagged ‘ IT ’


10 Tips to Ensure Your IT Career Longevity

Written by admin
October 19th, 2014

Enjoying a long career doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and effort. Use these tips to get your head in the game and keep your eye on the future.

Many people say that IT and technology are a young man’s game, and if you look at most influential tech companies you might agree. Most IT workers employed at those companies there are under 35 and male. However, these big name firms employ only a fraction of tech professionals and there are plenty of opportunities out there for everyone. IT has one of the lowest unemployment rates of any industry because in most organizations technology touches every part of the business.

Be Responsible for Your Own Career
Achieving career longevity in the IT business takes time effort, time and resources — and nobody but you can organize, facilitate and be responsible for all of it. To stay ahead of the learning curve you need to think about your goals and architect your future.

Many organizations are getting better at providing embedded employee performance and career management processes, according to Karen Blackie, CIO of Enterprise Systems & Data for GE Capital. However, she warns that you are your own best advocate and should always strive to “own” your career. Don’t wait for your organization to do it for you because that day may never come.

This means stepping back and thinking about where you want to be in X amount of time and then outlining the different skills and experience needed to get there. With that information you can start mapping out your career. “Doing research into what interests you, setting goals and objectives and then having a plan around how you will accomplish those goals is very important,” says Blackie. Remember positions get eliminated and things don’t always work out so it’s wise to consider alternate paths.

Flexibility and Agility Required
Technology moves at an unprecedented pace, which means you’ve got to be flexible. “Adaptability is key. CIOs who can’t adapt to that change will see themselves – unfortunately – left behind in a competitive job market. But the CIOs who see each new change – whether mobile, BYOD, Cloud, IoT – as an opportunity are the technology executives who will continue to be in demand– because they’ve proven that they can leverage new solutions to drive business value, “says J.M. Auron, IT executive resume writer and president of Quantum Tech Resumes.
Learn About the Business

“Having the business knowledge is a key foundational element to one’s career, ” says GE Capital’s Blackie. Being a great developer isn’t enough if you plan to climb the corporate ladder. You’ve got to understand your industry and how your company does business. This kind of data can also help you be a better programmer. By better understanding the business needs it will help you deliver products, software and services that better align with the business.

Always Be Learning
The price of career longevity in the world of IT and technology is constant learning. If you aren’t passionate about it or you’re complacent, it’s easy to find yourself locked into outdated technology and left behind. There are many ways to stay current like a formal college environment or a certification course for example. “It is your career and it is up to you to keep educating yourself,” says Robert P. Hewes, Ph.D., senior partner with Camden Consulting Group, with oversight for leadership development and management training.

Professional organizations, conferences, developer boot camps and meet-ups are all great ways to stay abreast in the newest technologies and build network connections within your industry. “It’s often a place where you develop life-long friends and colleagues, “says Blackie.

Attend Industry Conferences

Industry conferences are great way to learn about the newest trends in technology as well as network with like-minded people who hold similar interests. Be selective about which conferences you attend and make sure you allot the necessary time to socialize and network with your peers.

“One mistake attendees often make at conferences is filling their schedule so tightly with panels that they miss out on the networking available during downtime. It’s important to attend mixers and informal gatherings at conferences to meet your peers and build relationships that could last throughout your career,” says Blackie.

Incorporate Time into Your Day for Reading
Set up a little time each day to stay current with the goings-on in your part of technology and beyond. “Become a regular reader of info in your industry, be it an industry journal or an online blog/magazine. There is a lot of information out there. Another quick way to find relevant information is via an aggregator, Pocket and LinkedIn do this,” says Hewes.

Google News and a host of other news aggregators like LinkedIn Pulse or Reddit offer a daily stream of news and with alerts and notifications that allow users to focus on key areas of interest.

Pay Attention to Competitors
“It’s important to get to know industry competitors and watch what they’re doing. You can learn a lot from the successes and failures of your competitors,” says Blackie. Being first isn’t always required to be successful. Doing it better than the next guy is, however. Find your competitors as well as organizations that you think are thought leaders in your industry and follow them in social media or create a Google Alert for them.

Find a Mentor or Coach

Mentoring is useful at all levels of one’s career. A mentor can help you negotiate internal politics or provide insight into how to solve lingering problems. You may also have different mentors throughout your career, each offering a different perspective or expertise.

Understand the Value of Social Media
Not everyone adores social media, but it’s a necessary element in the race to separate you from the rest of IT professionals. Build and maintain profiles on relevant social media sites and then use them to explain the value proposition you offer.

Work on Soft Skills and Some Not-so-Soft Ones

Branding Skills

Branding is what help separates you from the rest of the pack and explains what your value proposition is to your employer or prospective employers. “Branding is another key for career advancement – and one that few technology leaders have fully embraced. Giving thought to that brand is key for career longevity and advancement,” Auron says.

Communication Skills

According to Auron, the ability to find the right path, communicate value and build enthusiasm is a crucial step in transforming the perception of IT from that of a cost center to that of a business enabler. “The most critical skill is the ability communicates the real value of technology investment to nontechnical leadership. Some technologists can fall into one of two traps: giving so much detail that the audience’s eyes glaze over or, appearing patronizing when intelligent – but nontechnical leaders – don’t get a specific reference,” Auron says.

Project Management Skills

At some point in your technology career you will be asked to lead a project. When the time comes make sure you’ve got the necessary tools. “It is critical if you are headed onto the management track. In fact, you should try to gain wide experience with all kinds of projects,” says Hewes.


 

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9 Rules for the Developer-ization of IT

Written by admin
September 15th, 2014

CIOs who want to drive innovation and change in their organizations should focus on making the lives of developers easier so they can innovate, produce great apps and deliver valuable IP.

The acceptance of SaaS, the cloud and other easily accessible technologies allow the lines of business to drive innovation without necessarily turning to IT for help.

While the CIO can take back some of that ground by becoming a broker and orchestrator of services, the real key to driving innovation and change today is app development, according to Jim Franklin, CEO of SendGrid, a largest provider of email infrastructure as a service.

Franklin says that much like the consumerization of IT that has been underway for several years, CIOs now need to embrace the “developer-ization of IT,” which is about allowing developers to focus on innovating, producing great apps and delivering valuable IP.

Rule 1: Embrace the Public Cloud
The public cloud offers developers access to scalable, flexible infrastructure. With it, they can scale up as necessary while consuming only what they need. The efficiencies created by the scale at which public clouds operate are something you just can’t replicate on your own.

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel by building servers, storage and services on your own,” Franklin says. “This will shave precious time off of project schedules, reduce time to market and lower costs significantly.

Rule 2: Adopt Enterprise Developer Marketplaces
Access to marketplaces full of enterprise-ready tools and APIs will allow your developers to build better applications faster.

“Embrace the new breed of enterprise developer marketplaces,” Franklin says. “Give developers access to more tools that are enterprise-ready. An emerging set of marketplaces from Windows Azure, Heroku and Red Hat provide a variety of new tools and services to ramp up application development productivity.”

Rule 3: Forget Long-Term Contracts for Tools and Services
A long-term contract for a service or tool may make financial sense, but can be a barrier to developer efficiency and agility. Instead, make it as easy as possible for developers to self-select the best tool for the job at hand.

“The nature of application development can be very transitory at times,” Franklin says. “Developers may need one service or tool one day and then pivot on to something else the next and they like to try and test tools before they make a financial commitment. Make the process of using different tools and vendors frictionless for them so they can self-select the tools they want. Long-term contracts impede this since approvals are needed from procurement or legal and this can draw out the process.”

Rule 4: Recognize that Developers Speak Their Own Language
When trying to communicate with developers — whether you’re trying to attract talent, project manage or target them for sales — tailor your messages for a highly technical audience and use the communication channels they’re comfortable with. This could mean user forums, hackathons or social media.

“The key is trying to be very flexible and open,” Franklin says. “Hackathons have really become a strong trend because of the power of letting people show their creativity in a lot of different ways.”

Rule 5: Give Developers Freedom With Controls
Creative solutions require the ability to experiment freely. Embrace that, but also put some controls in place for your own peace of mind. Franklin suggests deploying API management solutions and monitoring tools so IT can have a window in the traffic flowing through the network and can ensure security measures are taken into account.

Rule 6: Don’t Get Locked Down by a Platform or Language
Encourage your developers to build apps that are platform agnostic across Web, mobile and for Internet of Things devices from the start. Designing apps to be platform agnostic in the first place can save developers a lot of grief in the long-term.

“Rather than building for the Web and then adding a mobile extension later, developers should keep this in mind at the start of the app development process,” Franklin says. “If an application has a physical aspect to it, developers should be encouraged to define, deploy, communicate and manage the IoT application in a scalable fashion from the start.”

Rule 7: Give Developers Space to Pursue Their Own Projects
Developers are creative people with a natural love for making things. They’ll be happiest if you provide them with a collaborative, creative outlet for their own projects, and they may just solve an intractable problem in the process.”

“While the Google 20 percent idea — where employees used to take one day a week to work on side projects — may not work for everyone, understand that developers have an inherent desire to share new tools, hacks, shortcuts and passion projects with their peers,” Franklin says. “Give them time to do this at work. Some of these ideas may end up in your products. Gmail, AdSense and Google Hangouts, for example, all started as side projects of Google employees.”

Rule 8: Set Standards for Coding in RESTful, Modern APIs
Issue a set of best practices related to usable standards like REST. This, Franklin says, will allow developers to more rapidly build applications that access and act upon data exposed via APIs, even in environments with unreliable network speeds and limited computing power.”

REST also makes it easy for humans to understand what’s being exchanged while allowing computers to talk to one another efficiently,” Franklin adds.

Rule 8: Set Standards for Coding in RESTful, Modern APIs
Issue a set of best practices related to usable standards like REST. This, Franklin says, will allow developers to more rapidly build applications that access and act upon data exposed via APIs, even in environments with unreliable network speeds and limited computing power.”

REST also makes it easy for humans to understand what’s being exchanged while allowing computers to talk to one another efficiently,” Franklin adds.

 

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Corporate departments act on their own, contending IT is too slow in creating a path to cloud services

IT departments need to watch out for business units or even individual workers going rogue and bypassing IT to go straight to the cloud.

Theres a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now, said Gartner analyst Lydia Leong. IT administrators very rarely voluntarily want to go with the public cloud. I call this the turkeys dont vote for thanksgiving theory. The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people.

When marketing, events or other corporate business units conclude that IT is dragging its feet on the way to the cloud, the contract for the services themselves. IT often doesn’t discover the move until oit shows up in the tech expenses papers.

Right now business strength lies in going around IT, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Enderle Group.

Enterprise IT often sees the cloud as a risk. If you go to a large IT meeting, theyll generally place the public cloud as one of their top three or four threats because their line organizations, like marketing or manufacturing, go around IT to set up their own cloud service deals. They can get something cheaper and faster than they could by going through IT but its probably not compliant, he added.

Several analysts said theyve talked with enterprise IT executives who are facing such issues. None of the execs, though, want anyone to know its happening to them.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, said the problem lies in the fact that these are still the early days of corporate cloud services use. Companies lack rules for the technology and users are more eager than IT try it out.

This is the wild, wild West where there are no rules, he added. People are used to storing their own information on their own laptop. Storing it on the cloud doesnt seem to them all that different from what theyve been doing. Were stepping into this cloud world bit by bit and every company has different challenges. This affects many of them.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has contributed to the user push to the cloud, analysts say.

People have gotten pretty comfortable using their own smartphones and tablets at work. IT has had to adapt and learn to manage a network that theyre not totally able to control.

People, who dont want to wait for IT to catch up will contact companies like Google or Amazon directly and simply start storing data in the cloud.

It’s also about departments using clouds to get around budget constraints and a lack of capacity in IT, said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.

In a lot of ways, this reminds me of the 90’s when departments went wild with building their own data centers and IT capabilities. In a lot of cases, that resulted in higher costs, security vulnerabilities, and poor integration, Olds said.

When IT is left out, its personnel has no idea how secure the clouds are or exactly where the information is being stored. It also means IT can’t negotiate the best deal — one that could encompass many different departments or data stores.

Best case, organizations might end up spending more on cloud services than they would if they mounted the service on systems the data center already owns, said Olds. Worst case, the organization could find that critical data is now outside their firewall and perhaps could be accessed by folks who shouldn’t be able to see it.

Since analysts doubt IT can stop businesses from bypassing them on a whole-scale level, they say the tech execs need to set up strong cloud governance policies.

Its not really acceptable for IT to say no when someone wants to use the cloud, said Leong. They need to set up service agreements with approved providers and set up controls for how secure information needs to be. How do they provide risk management? How do they make this work instead of just saying, You cant do this.

Every time we take a step further into the information age, its unprotected, said Kagan. IT says theyre swamped just keeping everyone connected. They dont really have the time to proactively protect against future threats. They have to make the time.


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Just because BYOD has become normal operating process in most workplaces doesn’t mean the practice has stopped up causing dispute for IT.

Take San Francisco-based law firm Hanson Bridgett LLP, for example, whose attorneys perform legal work in the healthcare business and must adhere to the federal HIPAA and the HiTech Act standards, amongst others. According to the firm’s IT director Chris Fryer, that income the Apple and Android smart phones and tablets that its attorneys use need to be managed so that the business data on them is encrypted and can be wiped if wanted. But no one wants to interfere with the personal data on those privately owned mobile devices.

“We run just the business data and leave the rest alone,” says Fryer. That’s done by using mobile-device management (MDM) software from Good Technology and its “containerization” part so that the business apps and data on every machine is encrypted and cordoned off from the individual data.

But as much as Fryer has establish the Good Technology MDM to be effectual, there are still hurdles, he says. Each MDM vendor’s APIs for containerization need to be supported in the mobile apps, which is not always the case, he says.

“It’s an imperfect word,” says Fryer, noting that lack of standards in MDM and mobile apps combined with the plethora of MDM vendors — by some counts there are more than 150 — has made this a tough terrain.

In addition, Fryer points out his law firm relies on Microsoft Office applications to prepare complex legal documents. But Microsoft didn’t launch Office for iPad until late March, and in a way that’s tied to a subscription for Microsoft 365 cloud service. Fryer is watching how that will unfold. “We’re trying hard to edit documents on an iPad,” says Frye. “We want to make sure that will happen in a container.”

Fryer says there also can be issues with how e-mail clients work with MDM.

“Some MDM vendors allow you to use the native e-mail client,” says Fryer. “You can put up Google mail and also your corporate e-mail for that.” But Frye says the Good Technology containerization requires the use of Good’s email component to securely control e-mail, which can be problematic to end users accustomed to something else.

All of these challenges mean that despite the positive experience that the law firm has had with Good’s MDM technology, there’s still cause to keep an eye out for something new. Many businesses are up for trying new BYOD security possibilities for e-mail and calendaring.

First United Security Bank, based in Alabama, has long been in the practice of making sure any desktop e-mail with sensitive data is encrypted when sharing with business partners. That’s done with the ZixCorp e-mail encryption service that lets pre-authorized senders and receivers encrypt and decrypt e-mail.

Now, about two dozen employees have received approval for BYOD use, says Phillip Wheat, CIO at First United Security Bank. But these BYOD-approved employees must add the Zix Mobile App 1.0 to their personal Apple or Android device. This allows them to view e-mail attachments but not save attachments to their mobile devices. Wheat says this eliminates the need to have to remotely wipe an employee’s device if it’s lost or stolen.

Several security vendors are coming up with ways to extend their basic product or service to accommodate BYOD security. Dell is tying BYOD security controls to its SonicWall E-Class Appliance by introducing enterprise mobility software for Google Android or Apple iOS. This Dell software, called Secure Mobile Access 11.0 with Mobile Connect App, lets the IT manager set up a way to selectively apply customized VPN controls only to the corporate apps, not the employee’s personal apps. Dell is looking at adding the Windows mobile platform.

Jay Terrell, chief technology officer for Fulton County in Georgia, is a SonicWall customer who may start using this BYOD mobility approach. But he adds the county is still working on devising a BYOD strategy as it migrates off corporate-issued BlackBerries primarily to Android use. In the past, the county has allowed some limited BYOD use if the employee consents to use AirWatch MDM software.

However, not all organizations are migrating off BlackBerry. In fact, parts of the Australian government, for instance, are adopting the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 for mobility, with a big emphasis on BYOD, because of its secure multi-platform containerization technology, called BlackBerry Secure Work Space for iOS and Android. In March, this BlackBerry containerization technology received the U.S. government’s Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Gary Pettigrove, chief information officer at the Australian National Audit Office, which has 350 employees, is supporting BYOD for over 50 staff members and expects to have more than 200 in BYOD mode later this year. User preference in BYOD dictates the technology choices, but users must allow their personal devices to be managed for security purposes by the IT group.

“The IT team controls the BlackBerry service and fleet through a central administration portal,” says Pettigrove. “No one can join the service without first submitting their handset for configuration and setting up BlackBerry’s Secure Work Space. This is containerization, application-wrapping and secure connectivity options, allowing us to secure and control employees’ iOS and Android devices via the BES10 administration console.”

Pettigrove says BYOD is clearly benefiting staff productivity and employee satisfaction. It also appears to be helping reduce technology costs.
BYOD and network-access control

What might be surprising to some is how Microsoft actively supports a BYOD program that doesn’t deny employees any choice of mobile computing device, including smartphones and tablets from Apple and Android.

BYOD on a large scale was a decision made a few years ago to “embrace what’s coming” in terms of worker preferences and productivity, says Bret Arsenault, chief information security officer at Microsoft. Today, about 90,000 devices are “personally owned” by Microsoft employees and used for business purposes, including email and document editing. But it’s not that just anything goes with BYOD, Arsenault emphasizes. “Security is not an afterthought.”

Microsoft does mandate encryption and can extend a wipe capability to corporate data through use of its own service, Windows Intune. “We’re effectively securing the data — segregating and protecting the data on the device when it’s not owned by the business,” says Tim Rains, Microsoft directory of Trustworthy Computing. Microsoft uses Intune across the enterprise, testing out new features before they’re generally available.

According to Arsenault, the Microsoft BYOD strategy involves “certifying a set of capabilities, not the device.” Through the certificate-based Intune agent software, Microsoft can set limits related to a PIN timeout policy and manage the key that provides access to encrypted data. Education and training on use of BYOD in business is also an element in all this. “It’s the base minimum,” he notes.

But BYOD is not usually accorded the same level of trust as corporate-issued devices. And BYOD is subject to specific network-access controls on the Microsoft enterprise network which is set up under a model called “variable user experience” based on the identity of the device and the location, says Arsenault. In this, Microsoft recognizes security levels tied to on-network, off-network, wireless and Internet. Sometimes BYOD users don’t get the same access as they might with a corporate-issued device, depending on the sensitivity of the resource.

Gartner analyst Lawrence Orans says it’s a common security practice associated with BYOD to set up policies for mobile-device management based on network-access control. But one of the challenges in all this is that the various MDM vendors have specific partnerships with specific NAC vendors and when you pick NAC, “you’re also picking the MDM. If you pick the MDM first, you also limit the NAC partnership,” he points out.

The big players in NAC, including Cisco, ForeScout and Aruba Networks, each have several partnerships with MDM vendors, typically partnering with the MDM vendor to create integrated NAC and MDM client software. But there are a lot more MDM vendors than NAC vendors, Orans points out, advising enterprise IT managers to choose carefully if they’re supporting NAC, too.


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