This eWEEK: In Search of DIY Done Well

As I write this column, I'm working through what I hope are the final throes of an email migration process here at eWEEK. I'm up and running on the new system from my desktop and from the Web, and with the help of my friendly neighborhood IT admin, I trust that restored Blackberry access isn't too far away.

The migration scenario we're undergoing brings into focus the cover story from this week's print issue of eWEEK. IT departments have plenty of work on their hands keeping their organizations' systems up-to-date and running smoothly—even when those systems are cloud-based, as is the case with our email system.

Given this workload, there tend to be limited resources for studying the requirements for—let alone for building—what may end up being short-lived or little-used departmental applications.

As Cameron Sturdevant discussed in his story, a measure of self-service application development can help address this resource contention, and by offering the right tools and guidance, IT departments can help user-driven application development projects succeed—or at least not fail too spectacularly.

In pursuing that latter goal, my biggest take away from Cameron's story was the importance of considering at the outset how IT can take ownership of projects like this if they grow from departmental conveniences into vital company applications.

Whether or not companies move to embrace user-driven application efforts, there's little doubt that we'll see more of this sort of activity, given the wealth of inexpensive tools and fairly mature open source Web application projects available.

Microsoft's WebMatrix, which I reviewed in this week's issue, illustrates both of these realities, with a very simple environment for creating database-backed Web applications from scratch, or from a gallery of popular Web-based open source application projects.

Of course, one person's perceived opportunity is another's threat—WebMatrix lacks the sort of monitoring tools that an IT department would use to watch for the rising usage that would indicate a need for IT to bring one of these Web-based applications under its wing, and the tool's deployment tools are aimed most directly at shared hosting providers.

Still, with a bit of planning, an IT organization could wrap these supporting pieces around a tool like WebMatrix to provide their users for the right mix of flexibility and control for small projects.

Finally, this week we bid farewell to Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia, a savvy technologist, a great writer, and an excellent teammate who's been a major part of eWEEK Labs since 2003. Best of luck, Andrew, we'll miss you.