Back to the Business of What Business Needs

Consider what your business needs demand, research and build prototypes.

What is the it community doing during the tech downturn? Aside from covering the jobs left unfilled by budget-wary companies, IT workers are reviving the evaluation processes that served them in good stead before the Internet bubble popped. In those processes, you consider the computing requirements that a business need demands, research a set of products and services that appear to meet that need, and build prototypes to weigh vendor claims against reality. In that process, you select a winner and stand ready to move forward once budget approval has been granted. A lot of evaluation and prototyping is being done now, and I, for one, welcome a return to sanity in the product-decision process.

In this weeks Special Report on storage, in Anne Chens article, "Make Room for Data," we follow Kent Morrison, IT director for the city of Steamboat Springs, Colo., as he evaluates storage options. Morrison, like many IT directors, faces increasing storage needs and increased pressure to meet those needs reliably and cost-efficiently. In our other case history, we follow the evaluation saga of one of the members of our Corporate Partner advisory panel. Gary Bronson is the IT operations manager at Washington Group International. Building an IT infrastructure for this far-flung engineering concern presents just about every computing and networking challenge an IT manager can face. To find out how Bronson decided on a storage area network solution, see "SAN Saga."

One of the most difficult tasks for IT managers is evaluating new technologies that promise faster, more effective solutions. In this issue, weve assembled a roundtable of our Corporate Partners to get their views on when technologies such as SANs, WLANs and Web services will make headway in the enterprise. One of the most encouraging comments during that roundtable came from Nelson Ramos, the regional CIO at Sutter Health. Ramos has seen a resurgence in user-controlled standards groups. Making sure users, rather than vendors, set standards directions will do more to advance computing than any amount of corporate research and development.

While product evaluations and new technologies can help IT managers develop an enterprise computing architecture, those managers must also think about developing an IT career. The focus of that concern right now is on H1-B visas. For an update on this controversial program, see Lisa Vaas "Storm Clouds Rise Over H1-B."

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