Thursday, February 7, 2008

IT Risk Takers Miss the Point

At times, I pity the corporate IT manager or network engineer. Users are rarely content with the performance of their technical infrastructure. Moreover, many vendors try an end run around them with the goal of building a ground swell of support for their application, forcing the IT department to accept and support it.

Consider Google’s new Team Edition for their hosted application suite. It’s easy to use and includes all of the functionality of Microsoft Office, minus the Email. Google is encouraging corporate users to fire up their browsers, open an account and start collaborating. Just don’t tell the IT person.

IT departments shouldn't get angry about Team Edition, Rajen Sheth, Google Apps Senior Product Manager, told IDG News Service’s Juan Carlos Perez. Because, unlike other software that employees use without IT approval, it provides an upgrade path to IT-manageable versions.

Of course, “The IT department always has the option to sign up for the Standard Edition for free if they want to provide control over this. This is a solid, happy medium.”

I am all for hosted technical solutions as it allows a company to focus on its core competencies. In fact, Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has outsourced its technical infrastructure to a company called Network Alliance.

However, as IDG’s Perez points out, “By its very nature as a Web-hosted software suite, an unmanaged Google Apps deployment can represent a concern for IT departments, since the applications and the data generated are stored outside organizations' firewalls in Google data centers.”

The business world is defined by rules and best practices for good reason. It ensures consistency across an organization and helps mitigate risk.

While I believe in creativity and individuality, it’s important to note in this case the person working with Google Apps outside the firewall most likely won’t face the ramifications for unauthorized disclosure of sensitive corporate information.

It’s easy to be a risk-taker when you have nothing at risk.


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