Cleanliness Is Next to ...

For a more secure and productive work environment.

Right now, Im in the middle of a big office move. Without a doubt, moving is a big pain in the you-know-what, whether its to a new home or a new workplace.

First, theres all the dirt and dust that gets kicked up as you dig through all your old stuff and pack it up for shipping to your new digs. Its the middle of the winter here in the Boston area, but my allergies are acting like its springtime. But probably the biggest downer of having to move is the amount of time it eats up. Its been a nightmare having to juggle the time needed to get everything ready for the move with the work I have to do every day.

However, while moves are undoubtedly a hassle, they also provide quite a few benefits (aside from the shiny new digs).

First, when you move, you also often clean and declutter in the process. Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of all the junk that has been cluttering up your life and finally get organized. And when you see the dust that has been hiding under the clutter, youll be glad that youre moving to a freshly cleaned environment. Just getting away from all that dust and mold probably will make you feel a whole lot healthier.

You can get similar effects from making a technology move.

This has always been true on individual computer systems—especially those running Windows. How many times have you had friends or co-workers come to you complaining about their relatively new and powerful systems becoming performance and stability dogs?

After one look at these sluggish systems, the answer is usually clear: Theyve become cluttered with useless startup applications, helper programs and, often, spyware that has messed up the system as effectively as if it were chock-full of dog hair. The best thing to do with systems such as these is to essentially move—by backing up vital data and then performing a fully clean install of the operating system.

But this type of "virtual" move can also pay off in a larger enterprise IT sense because the corporate IT environment can become similarly cluttered and dirtied through years of IT cleaning apathy.

If you treated your IT infrastructure like your desk in a moving situation, youd most likely find applications and systems that are well past due for replacement. Even worse, you may find that these older applications could be costing you in performance and uptime or could even be a security threat. When businesses become susceptible to a widespread security problem, the culprit often is a forgotten and old enterprise system that has become impossible to protect against modern threats and intrusions.

Thats why its a good idea to put your entire IT infrastructure through a full-on evaluation and cleaning cycle. Are there old applications that could be easily replaced with newer ones that are not only faster but more secure? Are there old applications that are essentially redundant with newer systems and could be removed with no pain whatsoever?

Is the technology equivalent of dirt, dust and mold—in the form of spyware, viruses and rootkits—causing violent hay fever in your IT infrastructure? Now is the time to patch viable systems and remove the ones that can never be fully secured.

Sure, all this work can be time-consuming and a hassle. But Im looking forward to settling into my new office, with a leaner and cleaner operation and setup—not to mention a healthier, dirt- and dust-free environment.

Similarly, by cleaning up your IT environment, you can look forward to a healthier and better-performing infrastructure that will save you time and money in the long run.

In fact, I have to say that, in both the real world and the technology environment, its worth it to do the work of a move—even when youre not actually moving.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at